Tribunal's rationale for abortion ruling published

Poland's Constitutional Tribunal on Wednesday presented a written rationale behind its October 22, 2020, judgment on the protection of life.

The Constitutional Tribunal, after considering a motion of 119 Law and Justice, Polish People's Party and Confederation MPs, ruled in October that the provision of the 1993 anti-abortion law, allowing for an abortion if pre-natal tests revealed a high probability of irreversible damage to the foetus or its affliction with an incurable and life-endangering ailment is unconstitutional.

The probability of severe and irreversible impairment of the foetus or an incurable life-threatening disease is not sufficient for allowing the killing of a person in the prenatal period, the rationale reads in part.

"After all, even an unquestionable statement of a severe and irreversible impairment of the foetus, or an incurable disease that threatens its life, does not mean that the affected person will not be able to fully enjoy the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the constitution in the postnatal phase of life," the tribunal observed.

The tribunal added that the mere indication of a potential burden of birth defects is of eugenic nature.

Thousands of Poles, encouraged by leaders of the Women's Strike movement, took to the streets to protest against the publication of the tribunal's judgement.

"If, so far, we have talked about a 'women's hell,' I guess we will have to start talking about a 'government's hell.' We will just give you hell, we won't forgive you," Klementyna Suchanow, one of the leaders of the Women's Strike, said during an impromptu press conference in Warsaw.

Apart from Warsaw, protests were also to take place in Krakow, Lodz, Wroclaw, Poznan and Katowice.

Following the tribunal's judgement, Polish women will be allowed to terminate their pregnancy only in two cases - if it poses a threat to the life and health of the mother and when there is a justified suspicion that the pregnancy is a result of incest or rape.

The rationale, along with dissenting opinions, was posted on the tribunal's website. According to the the Government Information Centre, the judgment was to be published in the Journal of Laws on Wednesday.

The tribunal's October 22 judgement sparked nation-wide mass demonstrations for several weeks by predominantly young people in all major Polish cities, but also in smaller towns. In an October poll conducted by Kantar, 59 percent of respondents said they supported women's right to abort a foetus if it was permanently and irreversibly deformed.