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“Thank you Poland”: Disability activists welcome abortion ban

Disability activists have warmly welcomed the formal publication of a Polish court ruling which bans abortion on disability grounds.

“Bravo Poland. Across Europe, preborn babies with disabilities are being wiped out – more than 90% of babies with Down Syndrome aborted in some countries. Thank you Poland for banning abortion on disability grounds,” the Disability Voices for Life group wrote in response to the news.

Last October, Poland’s Constitutional Court ruled that abortion on the basis that the preborn child had a disability was unlawful. In 2016, a case where a baby with Down Syndrome had reportedly been left to die in distress after surviving an abortion at the Holy Family Hospital in Warsaw horrified many Polish people.

The new ruling, was originally handed down in October 2020, and met with protests from abortion supporters throughout the country, some of which saw violent clashes between demonstrators and police. Churches were also attacked.

The Constitutional Court found that “an unborn child is a human being” and that the child was therefore deserving protection under Poland’s constitution which ensures the right to life.

Poland’s government said on Twitter this week that: “The Constitutional Court presented a written justification of the ruling on the protection of life. In accordance with constitutional requirements, the ruling will be published today in the Official Gazette.” Once the ruling is published in the Gazette it becomes law.

Polish President Andrzej Duda said he supports the decision.

“I have said it many times, and I have never concealed it, that abortion for so-called eugenic reasons should not be allowed in Poland. I believed and believe that every child has a right to life,” he said in an interview last October.

The international media reacted with criticisms of the move to ban abortion on disability grounds and predictions of unrest. However, some Polish human rights groups welcomed the ban.

“All human rights treaties show the most important right is the right to life and it’s clearly stated in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child that every child should be protected before and after birth,” Karolina Pawlowska from the Ordo Iuris international law centre said.

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