WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland’s top court has ruled that a law allowing abortion of fetuses with congenital defects is unconstitutional.
The decision by the country's Constitutional Court on Thursday effectively bans terminating pregnancies in cases where birth defects are found and will further limit access to abortions in Poland. The predominantly Catholic nation already has one of the strictest abortion laws in Europe.
The ruling came in response to a motion from right-wing lawmakers who argued that terminating a pregnancy due to fetal defects violated the provision of the Polish Constitution protecting the life of every individual.
The challenged law was introduced in 1993 as a hard-won compromise that also allows abortions when a pregnancy endangers a woman’s health or life, or results from rape or other illegal act.
Abortion rights groups had held protests and international human rights organizations had argued against further restricting abortions.
In response to the decision, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović wrote on Twitter that it was a “sad day for women’s rights.”
“Removing the basis for almost all legal abortions in #Poland amounts to a ban & violates #HumanRights," she tweeted. "Today’s ruling of the Constitutional Court means underground/abroad abortions for those who can afford & even greater ordeal for all others. A sad day for #WomensRights.”