Top court chief says abortion ruling based on law not politics - press

Tomasz Gzell/PAP

The president of Poland's Constitutional Tribunal has defended its controversial abortion ruling, which has resulted in weeks of street protests, arguing that it was based on law, not politics.

Julia Przylebska told Sieci, a weekly news magazine, that the only thing that matters to the Tribunal is the constitution, and the legal knowledge and conscience of its judges.

"At no stage do we adapt our rulings to social moods or the political situation,” she said. "Like all courts we issue verdicts and decisions when the appropriate procedures are fulfilled and we are ready to rule. Neither earlier nor later."

Przylebska added the same decision would be passed today despite the nationwide protests over the tribunal’s ruling, which found that abortion on the grounds of severe foetal damage is unconstitutional. She said the tribunal was not hers but a panel of 15 independent judges, and that those 15 judges had issued the ruling.

She said the protests did not start after the ruling but from the moment the motion was filed by MPs, although then it was mostly pro-life protesters demonstrating. Protestors, she said, had compared her to Hitler and said she had blood on her hands because the tribunal was taking so long to issue a ruling.

Przylebska went on to say that given the constitution, the tribunal could not have reached a different judgement. As for the timing of the ruling, she said that for the pro-life lobby it arrived "scandalously late" and for the pro-choice lobby "at a scandalously express tempo," adding that neither group was right.