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Poland to appeal ECHR abortion ruling

Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski [official profile] said Tuesday that Poland plans to appeal a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website; JURIST news archive] that found Poland in violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights [text] for prohibiting a pregnant woman who had a serious risk of vision loss if she carried the pregnancy to term from obtaining an abortion. Kaczynski said the ruling threatened to undermine Poland's current anti-abortion laws [CRR backgrounder], some of Europe's strictest, which allow abortions when a woman's life or health is threatened by pregnancy, the baby is likely to be handicapped, or when a pregnancy is a result of rape. The ECHR found, however, that the Polish government did not provide any procedural framework to resolve a dispute concerning whether a medical exception should be granted, or to facilitate "effective mechanisms capable of determining whether the conditions for obtaining a lawful abortion had been met."

Alicia Tysiac, whose case reached the ECHR [JURIST report] in February 2006, had on multiple instances requested a certificate for the termination of her pregnancy on the risk to mother's health exception, but was denied. Tysiac suffered a retinal hemorrhage as a result, and was declared "significantly disabled" by a panel of doctors. The ECHR ordered Poland to compensate Tysiac 39,000 euros (approximately $52,000) in non-pecuniary damages, costs and expenses. In April, the Polish parliament rejected constitutional amendments [JURIST report] advanced by the conservative ruling League of Polish Families and Law and Justice [party websites, in Polish], that sought to ban abortions altogether or strengthen existing anti-abortion legislation. Reuters has more.

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