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ECHR affirms rejection of Poland abortion laws

[JURIST] The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has confirmed its ruling that a Polish woman's rights were violated when she was denied an abortion based on medical concerns that the pregnancy may cause her to go blind. Alicja Tysiac suffered a retinal hemorrhage after delivering her child by cesarean section in November 2000. The ECHR ruled [DOC text] in March that Poland violated of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights [text] by prohibiting the Tysiac from obtaining an abortion. Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski appealed [JURIST report] that decision, arguing that the ruling threatened to undermine Poland's strict anti-abortion laws, but the ruling was upheld last week. Polish law allows abortions only 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."

Tysiac's case reached the ECHR [JURIST report] in February 2006. She had on multiple instances requested a certificate for the termination of her pregnancy on the risk to mother's health exception, but was denied. After her pregnancy and resulting injury, Tysiac 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. The Irish Times has more.

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