Top courts rules abortion in case of damaged foetus unconstitutional

Marcin Obara/PAP

Poland's constitutional court ruled on Thursday that laws permitting abortion when a foetus is suffering from irreversible damage are unconstitutional.

Under a 1993 family planning law, abortion is allowed in Poland if pre-natal tests reveal a high probability of irreversible damage to the foetus or if it is suffering from an incurable and life-threatening condition. The vast majority of abortions that now take place in Poland fall into this category.

The court’s ruling follows a 2019 motion to the court by a group of 119 MPs from the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party and two opposition groupings.

Explaining its verdict, the court said that human life was of value in every development phase, and should therefore be protected by law.

"All public authorities, especially legislators, have the duty to ensure legal protection of every human life," the court said, pointing out that "there can be no talk of protecting human dignity without creating sufficient foundations for the protection of life."

If the ruling is upheld, it would mean that abortion in almost all circumstances would become illegal in Poland.