Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Europe's Human Rights Court Orders Poland to Compensate Woman Denied an Abortion

Polands Via AP/Int'l Herald Tribune, "Human rights court upholds abortion challenge; Poland must clarify guidelines":

Europe's human rights court on Tuesday upheld a challenge to Poland's restrictive abortion rules by a woman whose eyesight was severely damaged during childbirth after she was denied permission to have an abortion.  The European Court of Human Rights ruled that Poland has no effective legal framework for pregnant women to assert their right to abortion on medical grounds.

The court granted the 36-year-old Pole €25,000, or about US$33,250, in damages after doctors refused to grant her permission to terminate her pregnancy despite serious risk to her eyesight. It said doctors in Poland were often reluctant to authorize an abortion in the absence of transparent and clearly defined rules....

The ruling means Poland will have to introduce clearer guidelines on abortion law on medical grounds. As a member of the Council of Europe, Poland is obliged to abide by the court's judgments.

Alicja Tysiac, who suffers from severe myopia, became pregnant for the third time in 2000. Three ophthalmologists she consulted each concluded her eyesight would be damaged further if she carried the pregnancy to term. However, they refused to issue a certificate for the pregnancy to be terminated on medical grounds, despite Tysiac's requests, the court said.  With her myopia worsening, she consulted more doctors, but was not allowed to terminate her pregnancy, delivering her third baby by Caesarean in November 2000.

After the delivery, her eyesight deteriorated considerably as a result of what was diagnosed as a retinal hemorrhage, the court said. A panel of doctors concluded that her condition required treatment and daily assistance and declared her to be significantly disabled.

Abortion is prohibited in Poland, a staunchly Catholic country, except under certain conditions for medical purposes. It is a criminal offense punishable by up to three years in jail.... The ultraconservative League of Polish Families, a junior partner in the governing coalition, is campaigning for a constitutional amendment to ban abortion in all cases, including rape and incest.

More news reports on this story: Reuters, Poland ordered to compensate woman denied abortion; Bloomberg, Pole Granted Compensation by European Court After Abortion Ban.

Think Poland's approach is extreme?  Presidential candidates John McCain and Sam Brownback do not support health exceptions for abortion.  They too, apparently, would rather force a woman to go blind than to let her end her pregnancy.  Who knows where Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney currently stand on this one.  See related posts: John McCain on Abortion; Sam Brownback on Abortion; Michael Dorf on Giuliani's Abortion Views; Mitt Romney on Abortion; Ann Althouse on Giuliani's and Romney's Abortion Views.


Abortion, In the Courts, International | Permalink

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