Poland violated the rights of a pregnant woman by interfering in her ability to get an abortion, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled.
The woman at the centre of the case, referred to as “M L”, had tried to have an abortion in the country after her child was diagnosed with what was described as a “high-risk foetal abnormality”.
After initially being approved for the procedure, a ruling from the Polish Constitutional Court prevented it from going ahead. She then travelled to the Netherlands to undergo the abortion at her own financial expense.
Judgment M.L. v. Poland – woman forced to travel abroad to have an abortion following legislative amendments breached the Convention https://t.co/KgxMiNE9C1#ECHR #CEDH #ECHRpress pic.twitter.com/VExdZ4fTh0
— ECHR CEDH (@ECHR_CEDH) December 14, 2023
According to the ECHR, the cancellation of her abortion appointment in Poland constituted a violation of her right to “respect for private and family life”, as enshrined by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
It added that the Polish court ruling that saw her appointment cancelled was also illegal due to what it claimed were issues regarding how some of the judges on Poland’s Constitutional Court had been appointed.
“The Constitutional Court’s ruling had interfered with the procedure for which the applicant had qualified and which had already been put in motion, creating a situation depriving her of proper safeguards against arbitrariness,” it said.
FEDERA, the pro-abortion NGO that helped represent M L at the European court, celebrated the ruling, claiming to have fought the case for “every woman living in Poland”.
“This verdict is a milestone and another argument that Polish law, which causes so much suffering for women in Poland, must change,” it said.
The organisation added that it was no longer sufficient to merely overturn recent court rulings restricting abortion in Poland but it was also necessary to enable “access to legal abortion regardless of the reason”.
EU pro-life citizens’ group One of Us described the ruling as “stigmatising” children with Downs syndrome by linking the allowance of abortion to disability.
“How can we accept eugenic abortion when we are committed to human rights?” said the organisation’s president Marina Casini.
“Every life with a disability deserves to be valued as worth living.”
A political storm has erupted in Poland over a woman being interrogated by the police after she took an abortion pill. https://t.co/NBKyvryREe
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) July 24, 2023