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Polish Government To Appeal European Court Of Human Rights Ruling

Polish Government To Appeal European Court Of Human Rights Ruling That Rights Of Polish Woman Allegedly Denied Abortion Were Violated

Polish officials on Tuesday said they plan to appeal a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that ordered the government to award damages to a Polish woman who says that in 2000 she was denied an abortion despite warnings from physicians that she could become blind if she continued the pregnancy, Reuters reports (Reuters, 6/19).

Alicja Tysiac -- who has three children -- alleges that Poland's abortion law violated her rights under Article 8 and Article 14 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which guarantee "respect for privacy and family life" and "prohibition of discrimination," respectively. Polish law allows abortion only if a woman has been raped, if there is danger to the life of the woman or if the fetus will have birth defects. Three ophthalmologists in February 2000 told Tysiac she would go blind if she were to give birth to a third child. None of the doctors would refer her for an abortion procedure.

In April 2000, Tysiac had an appointment at a public hospital in Warsaw, Poland, where a gynecologist said there was no medical reason to have the procedure. Tysiac gave birth via caesarean section in November 2000. After her c-section, Tysiac experienced a retinal hemorrhage. Since then, "a panel of doctors concluded that her condition required treatment and daily assistance and declared her to be significantly disabled," court documents said. Tysiac filed a criminal complaint against the gynecologist at the public hospital but dropped it when a district prosecutor said there was no causal association between the gynecologist's decision and her blindness. She filed a complaint with the European Court in January 2003, and the court upheld her appeal in March 2007.

The ruling stated that Poland failed to guarantee access to legal abortions and that Tysiac's privacy rights had been violated and that her treatment had caused her "severe distress and anguish." In the decision, the court said that Poland has no effective legal framework for pregnant women to assert their right to abortion on medical grounds. It added that Polish law "did not contain any effective mechanism capable of determining whether the conditions for obtaining a lawful abortion had been met" (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 3/22).

Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski at a news conference said, "If we didn't appeal, we would have to ease the antiabortion laws in Poland and this wouldn't be good." According to Reuters, the governing coalition in the country has been pushing for a total ban on abortion (Reuters, 6/19). However, Kaczynski's conservative party has tried to keep abortion-related issues "off the political agenda" since lawmakers in April rejected proposals for tougher abortion restrictions, Agence France Presse reports



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Re: Polish Government To Appeal European Court Of Human Rights Ruling

I can see many more of these kinds of cases in the future, as the current government tightens it's control of the judiciary and creates a climate of fear where professionals are unwilling to express an honest judgement for fear of losing their jobs. Luckily the Strasboug court is there for people who are let down.

I don't think the Polish government has much hope with the appeal.