Decision banning terminations of pregnancies with foetal defects put into effect
Poland's government put into effect on Wednesday a constitutional court decision banning terminations of pregnancies with foetal defects. The Oct. 22 ruling had led to weeks of massive protests, forcing the Law and Justice (PiS) government to delay its implementation.
The court's verdict was published in the official gazette late on Wednesday. Small protests gathered late on Wednesday following an announcement PiS would take the official step to enforce the decision imminently, and abortion rights activists announced more would take place on Thursday.
Under the new rules, terminations will be permitted only in cases of rape and incest, and when the mother's life or health is endangered. Doctors performing illegal abortions in Poland face jail. In a justification published on Wednesday, the tribunal left open the possibility of the parliament regulating some circumstances covered by the law.
Last year's protests quickly morphed into an eruption of anger against the government, particularly among young people, suggesting PiS may face a fresh challenge from new voters in coming years. On Wednesday, officials said the government would now focus on assisting parents of disabled children, although PiS as well as its centrist predecessors have been accused by critics of not doing enough in that regard.
The party denies opposition criticism that it had influenced the court, called the Constitutional Tribunal. It is one of the judicial bodies PiS overhauled during reforms that the European Union said has politicised the courts.
Access to abortion has declined even without the legislative curbs as more doctors refuse to perform them on religious grounds and many women seek abortions abroad.