Court censures Poland for denying abortion rights
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Abortions and Human Rights :
The European court of human rights ruled yesterday that Poland was failing to guarantee access to lawful abortions in a test case hailed as a victory for women across Europe and a blow to the deeply conservative government in Warsaw.
The Strasbourg-based court awarded damages to Alicia Tysiac, 35, a single mother of three from Warsaw who is nearly blind. She sued the Polish government after being denied an abortion in 2000 despite medical testimony that her pregnancy would seriously impair her failing eyesight.
In a ruling that obliges all 46 member states of the Council of Europe to ensure abortions are available where they are legal, the court found that Ms Tysiac's privacy rights had been violated and her treatment had caused her "severe distress and anguish".
She was awarded costs and (turu)25,000 ((b.pounds)17,000) in damages. After giving birth, Ms Tysiac suffered a retinal haemorrhage, making her eyesight so poor she needed daily medical treatment. She can see no further than 1.5 metres and fears she will go completely blind.
Poland practises one of the most restrictive abortion regimes in Europe, banning and criminalising it except on medical grounds, risk to life, and where pregnancy results from sexual violence.
In the EU only Malta, where abortion is outlawed, and Ireland have more draconian regimes. Illegal abortion, however, is thriving in Poland. Polish NGOs estimate some 200,000 women are having backstreet abortions every year.
The Tysiac case was seen as significant because she requested an abortion on recognised medical grounds and was still denied because, according to the court, the medical profession in Poland is wary of granting or performing abortions even where they are legal.
She pressed criminal charges against the doctor who refused her, but the local prosecutor's office threw the case out.
"Thousands of women are denied abortions that they are legally entitled to in Poland every year," said Wanda Nowicka, head of the Polish federation for women and family planning.
The bench of seven judges found that since the Polish parliament had voted to allow abortion, "it must not structure its legal framework in such a way as to limit the use of that possibility.
"Polish law ... did not contain any effective mechanism capable of determining whether the conditions for obtaining a lawful abortion had been met."
"For women around the world, this is a huge victory," said Pardiss Kebriaei, a legal adviser at the New York-based Centre for Reproductive Rights. "This is the first time such a court has decided on a state's failure to ensure access to abortion where it's legal. The applicant is nearly blind as a result of government failure."
Poland's rightwing government is seen as reactionary on a host of social issues especially sexual politics, with the extremist junior coalition partner, the League of Polish Families, calling for a total ban on abortion while also spreading anti-gay prejudice.
The European parliament yesterday decided to open an inquiry into whether the League's leader, the education minister, Roman Giertych, was in breach of EU anti-discrimination rules by proposing a bill banning discussion of homosexuality in Poland's schools.
Source: The Guardian, 21/MAR/07
|Сайт открыт 22-08-2000, автор: Ба-лдей Ага|