Berlin, October 22: The Polish Constitutional Tribunal’s ruling to invalidate the constitutionality of access to abortion on the ground of “severe and irreversible fetal defect or incurable illness that threatens the fetus’ life” will further harm women and girls and violates their human rights, Amnesty International, the Centre for Reproductive Rights, and Human Rights Watch said Thursday.

Amnesty International, the Centre for Reproductive Rights, and Human Rights Watch sent independent expert monitors to observe the hearing of Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal and to analyse the decision.

“Today’s judgement puts the health and lives of women in Poland at great risk and violates Poland’s obligations under international human rights treaties to refrain from retrogressive measures that roll back women’s rights to sexual and reproductive health care,” said Leah Hoctor, regional director for Europe at the Center for Reproductive Rights. 

“Poland must act now to bring its law into line with other European Union member states and legalize abortion on a woman’s request or broad social grounds, and guarantee women’s full and effective access to care in situations where women’s physical or mental health is at risk.”

“This judgement is the result of a coordinated systematic wave of attacks on women’s human rights by Polish lawmakers, and represents their latest attempt to ban abortion in Poland,” said Esther Major, senior research adviser at Amnesty International. 

“Legal prohibitions on abortion do not prevent abortion or reduce the rates of abortion; they serve only to damage women’s health by pushing abortions underground or forcing women to travel to foreign countries to access abortion care they need and to which they have a right. Although all women may be affected by this cruel judgement, marginalized groups of women who cannot afford to travel will disproportionately suffer the consequences of the judges’ actions today.” 

“Instead of safeguarding and protecting people’s rights, Poland’s Constitutional Court has contributed to violating them,” said Hillary Margolis, senior researcher on women’s rights at Human Rights Watch. 

“The European Commission and EU member states should urgently address breaches of rule of law and their impact on fundamental rights in Poland. Ensuring women’s human rights, including their reproductive rights, is essential to upholding EU values. Poland’s flagrant disregard for these values is dangerous not only for women and girls in Poland, but throughout Europe. Women in Poland have sustained attacks against their rights again and again and will not stop fighting for their right to abortion care. We stand with them every step of the way.”

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