Probe launched into hospital after death of pregnant woman

Leszek Szymański/PAP

The National Health Fund (NFZ) has launched an inquiry into the death of a pregnant 30-year-old patient at a hospital in the southern town of Pszczyna, an NFZ spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

Sylwia Wadrzyk told PAP that the NFZ investigation would last "until the end of November."

The prosecutor's office has also launched an investigation into the case.

The 30-year-old woman, identified only as "Izabela," died in September of septic shock in her 22nd week of pregnancy. Doctors did not perform an abortion, even though her foetus was lacking amniotic fluid.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the hospital said that its staff had done everything they could to save the life of the pregnant woman.

However, the family of the deceased woman believes that her doctors adopted a "wait-and-see" attitude which, they say, led to a delay in terminating the pregnancy and contributed to her death.

The woman's case was made public on Friday, triggering protests in several large Polish cities on Monday evening, on All Saints' Day, which is celebrated solemnly in Poland.

Reproductive rights activists say that she is the first person to die as a result of a recent tightening of Poland's abortion law.

A ruling by the Constitutional Tribunal on October 22, last year, outlawed pregnancy terminations for foetal abnormalities, virtually the only type of abortion currently performed in the country.

Abortions of pregnancies resulting from rape and those threatening the life of women are still formally legal.

The ruling resulted in several days of mass protests last year across the country.