Over 45 pct of Poles against abortion in Down Syndrome cases - survey

In all, 46 percent of respondents to a CBOS poll believe that abortion should not be allowed when Down Syndrome is detected during pregnancy, while 38 percent believe that it should be permitted.

Eighty-six percent of those polled believed that a pregnancy could be terminated when it posed a danger to the mother's life and eight percent were of the opposite opinion.

Seventy-nine percent of the respondents stated that abortion could be allowed when it posed a danger to the mother's health, 13 percent said that abortion should not be permitted in this instance.

Seventy-nine percent of the pollees believed a pregnancy could be terminated when it was the result of a crime or rape, 12 percent were of the opposite opinion.

Seventy-five percent of those participating in the survey believed that abortion should be permitted when a foetus is irreversibly damaged and when the damage leads to its death, and 14 percent did not agree with this statement.

Asked about other circumstances when a pregnancy could be terminated, 69 percent said it should not be permitted when a woman was in a difficult financial situation, whereas 20 percent did not agree with this view. Seventy-three percent believed that a pregnancy should not be terminated when a woman does not want to have a baby, 18 percent did not share this opinion.

Taking into account all of the above-mentioned cases, one could say that 14 percent of Poles support a complete liberalisation of the abortion law, and three percent favor a complete abortion ban.

On October 22, the Constitutional Tribunal, which verifies the constitutionality of Polish laws, ruled that abortion is unconstitutional in the case of a severely damaged foetus. The ruling leaves two situations in which a pregnancy can be terminated: when it is the result of a crime or when it poses a danger to the mother's health or life. The tribunal issued a verdict regarding the constitutionality of an article of the 1993 law, which bans abortion, but which also permits it in certain circumstances, including cases of an irreversibly damaged foetus.

Nation-wide protests have been ongoing since October 22 when the ruling was announced. Under enormous pressure, the Polish government has delayed implementation of the controversial ruling.

CBOS carried out the survey on November 5-15 on a representative sample of 1,052 Poles, through the use of Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviews (CATI), the Computer Assisted Web Interview (CAWI) method and Computer-Assisted Personal Interviews (CAPI).