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Europe rights court rules against Poland in abortion rape case

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] on Tuesday condemned [judgment, PDF; press release] Poland's treatment of a 14-year-old rape victim who sought an abortion. The victim initially faced charges of unlawful intercourse by the Polish criminal justice system. The ECHR articulated four violations of the European Convention on Human Rights [text, PDF]. The ECHR found two violations of Article 8's right to respect for private life when the girl was hindered in her attempts to obtain an abortion, and when one of the hospitals released details of her case to the media including her personal information. Further, the court found a violation of Article 5's right to liberty when she was placed into a juvenile home to separate her from parents who ostensibly advocated for the abortion. Finally, the ECHR found a violation of Article 3's prohibition against degrading treatment when she was forced to speak with a priest, when her mother was forced to sign a consent form stating that her daughter may die during the procedure, and when she was targeted for unlawful intercourse. The ECHR awarded money damages to the victim from the government of Poland.

Last year the ECHR ruled [JURIST report] that a Polish woman who had been denied genetic testing and an abortion was subjected to "inhuman treatment." The court found violations of Article 3 and Article 8. In 2010 the ECHR ruled [JURIST report] that Ireland failed to provide "effective and accessible procedures" to allow a Lithuanian women to assert her constitutional right to a lawful abortion. In 2007 Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski declared that Poland planned to appeal a ruling [JURIST reports] by the ECHR that found Poland in violation of Article 8 for prohibiting a pregnant woman who had a serious risk of vision loss if she carried the pregnancy to term from obtaining an abortion. The ECHR later rejected this appeal [JURIST report], reinforcing 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." JURIST guest columnist Gerolf Hagens has analyzed [JURIST comment] the ECHR's rulings on abortion.

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