Poland’s top court has ruled that disability-selective abortions, which make up a majority of all terminations in Poland, are unconstitutional.
The decision by the country’s Constitutional Court today will mean the majority of unborn babies in Poland will be protected from abortion.
Once the court’s ruling comes into effect, terminations will only be permissible in cases of rape or incest, or if the mother’s life is at risk.
Protection of life
The ruling came in response to a motion filed, last year, by a large cross-party group of lawmakers from Poland’s Law and Justice Party, Confederation Liberty and Independence Party and Polish Coalition Party.
In their application, the 119 parliamentarians argued that allowing terminations on the basis of disability, such as cleft lip, club foot or Down’s syndrome, would be in violation of the Polish Constitution which protects the dignity and right to life of every human person.
11 of Poland’s 13 Constitutional Court judges agreed. In its decision, the court said there can be no protection of the dignity of an individual without the protection of life.
‘Poland is on the side of life’
According to Polsat News, when the decision was announced, pro-life campaigners celebrated outside the court shouting “Thank you” and “Poland is on the side of life”.
Polling has revealed there is strong support for pro-life measures in the country.
A CBOS survey found that 75% of Polish people think abortion is “always wrong and can never be justified”. Meanwhile, only 7% thought there was “nothing wrong with it and could always be justified”.
Additionally, earlier this year a ‘Citizens’ initiative against eugenic abortion’ supporting a ban on disability-selective abortion gathered 830,000 signatures from Polish residents, indicating further strong support for the change in law.
Will the UK be the next to offer protection to disabled babies
Pro-life campaigners are hoping the ruling will have a positive influence on the UK, where the High Court in London will hear a landmark case against the UK Government over the country’s discriminatory abortion legislation.
Currently in England, Scotland and Wales, the law singles out babies with disabilities such as cleft lip and club foot and Down’s syndrome and allows terminations right up to the point of birth. However, there is a 24-week time limit for most abortions that are carried out when a baby does not have a disability.
Heidi Carter, a 25-year-old woman with Down’s syndrome, and Máire Lea-Wilson, whose sixteen-month-old son Aidan also has the condition, both believe this is “deeply offensive” and have joined forces to challenge the law.