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A step towards recognising women’s right to legal and safe abortions

samedi 31 août 2002, par Josefina Gamboa

The Polish Women’s movement fighting for the right to legal and safe abortions had a small victory through the rulling in a recent court case.

On 24 of July, 2002 after two years of long consideration the court in Czestochowa, Poland, sentenced that there was not enough evidence to define whether two doctors accused of making abortion were guilty.

Two years ago, the Police in Lubliniec, a small town near Czestochowa, after having received an anonymous telephone call, went unexpectedly to the gynecologist cabinet to investigate whether an illegal abortion had taken place there. They took the female patient who was uncounscious because of the medicine to the police station and started asking a lot of intimate questions. The woman was also subjected to the gynocologist investigation (???). No one informed her about her rights.

The court sentenced that what the Police had done was a violation of human rights. The testimony of this woman cannot be taken into account because she was somehow forced to answer the questions and was not fully conscious of what was going on. The doctors explained that the fetus had not been alive and the dead pregnancy would threaten the woman’s life. The court also asked why it had to come to this that the woman could not get any help in the public hospital and she had to pay for her survival.

Since 1993, Poland has been almost the only contry in Europe with the most restrictive anti-abortion law. Even though it is eligible to have abortion in the public hospital if the pregnancy is the result of rape or threatens to woman’s life or the fetus is seriously ill, women in Poland are denied to have access to abortion. They cannot decide when and how many, if any, children they would want to have.

The Police’s action in Lubliniec evoked a lot of protests. It was one of the reasons why Women’s Alliance, an informal group of feminist activists working for NGOs or universities, journalists and also individual persons, came into being. On the demand of these groups the Polish Ombudsman took steps to investigate the Police’ share in that case.


Agnieszka Grzybek, OSKa - the National Women’s Information Center, Poland

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