Opposition to probe why teenage rape victim was refused abortion

MPs from Poland's main opposition grouping, Civic Coalition, (KO) want to know which hospitals refused an abortion to an underage girl with intellectual disabilities who became pregnant as a result of rape.

The media reported that doctors from hospitals in Podlasie, the north-eastern province where the victim lives, refused to terminate the pregnancy of the 14-year old, citing the so-called conscience clause, which allows medical staff to refuse to provide services they deem incompatible with their conscience.

The procedure ultimately took place in Warsaw, thanks to the intervention of the Federation for Women and Family Planning, which first reported the case on Friday and revealed that the girl was raped by her uncle.

Under Polish law, abortion is allowed only in two situations: when the pregnancy poses a threat to the woman's life or health, or when the pregnancy resulted from a prohibited act such as rape or incest.

Commenting on the media reports, Aleksandra Gajewska from KO, said that this "draconian" abortion law and "falsely understood defence of life, which applies only to the foetus and not to mothers in any way, allowed doctors in hospitals in Podlasie to refuse to help a 14-year-old girl."

She added that doctors from Podlasie hid behind "the conscience clause... and decided that their conscience was more important than helping a 14-year-old with an intellectual disability who did not even realise the consequences of the drama that had taken place."

Gajewska said that KO would check throughout the country whether "the conscience clause may be used by Polish doctors not to provide assistance."

Monika Wielichowska, also from KO, announced that the party would prepare measures that would allow "the termination of a pregnancy up to the 12th week in safe conditions".

"However, we have to wait until we defeat PiS (the ruling Law and Justice party-PAP), which hates women," she said.