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Polish court restricts abortion due to congenital defects


Aleksander Kalka | NurPhoto | AFP

John Burger - published on 10/23/20 - updated on 10/23/20

Ruling, which cannot be appealed, bans procedure in cases of "abnormalities."

Poland just tightened up its already restrictive law against abortion. The highest court in Poland ruled against performing abortions due to fetal abnormality.

The 13-member Constitutional Court ruled Thursday against the constitutionality of a law permitting abortion of unborn babies with congenital defects. The law was last changed in 1993, allowing abortion in cases of rape or incest, when a mother’s health is endangered, and included the fetal abnormality provision.

Only the fetal deformity provision was challenged, and only two members of the court voted to uphold the constitutionality of that part of the law.

Conservative lawmakers had initiated the case, arguing that ending a pregnancy because of fetal defects violates a constitutional provision protecting the life of every individual.

“The court argued that terminating pregnancy due to defects of the fetus amounted to eugenics — a 19th century notion of genetic selection that was later applied by the Nazi Germans in their pseudo-scientific experiments,” the Associated Press reported. “It agreed with the plaintiffs that it was a form of banned discrimination when the decision about an unborn child’s life was conditioned on its health.”

In justifying its decision, the court said “there can be no protection of the dignity of an individual without the protection of life.”

Archbishop Marek Jedraszewski of Krakow expressed “great appreciation for the courage” of the judges in the defense of human life “from the moment of conception to the (moment of) natural death.”

The ruling came on the feast day of St. John Paul II, former archbishop of Krakow and the first Polish pope.

Polish sexual and reproductive health and rights activist Antonina Lewandowska told the BBC that the defense of the 1993 law was based on UN rules outlawing torture.

“It’s inhuman, it’s despicable honestly to make anyone carry a pregnancy to term, especially if the fetus is malformed, and 98% of legal abortions carried out in Poland are due to fetal malformations,” she said.

Catholics in Poland prayed a novena of prayers ahead of Thursday’s ruling, which cannot be appealed, Catholic News Agency reported.

“With this decision, it was found that the concept of ‘life not worth living’ is in sharp contradiction to the principle of a democratic state ruled by law,” said Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, president of the Polish bishops’ conference. “The life of every human being from conception to natural death is of equal value to God and should be equally protected by the state. While rejoicing in this epochal change of law, let us now remember that children — who are directly affected by today’s decision of the Constitutional Tribunal — and their families should be surrounded with special kindness and real care on the part of the state, society, and the Church.”

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