Friday, November 26, 2021

Polish Ministry of Health clarified the law on abortion after the death of a woman

On Sunday, Poland’s health ministry issued instructions for doctors confirming the legality of terminating a pregnancy when a woman’s health or life is in danger, a directive that came amid apparent confusion over the country’s new abortion law restriction.

The document, addressed to obstetricians, is a reaction to the death in the hospital of a 30-year-old mother who became pregnant at 22 weeks. The woman died in September, but her death became widely known this month. Doctors at a hospital in Pszczyna, southern Poland, have postponed the termination of her pregnancy, despite the fact that her fetus did not have enough amniotic fluid to survive, her family and lawyer say.

Doctors have been suspended, the prosecutor’s office is investigating.

Outraged Poles staged massive nationwide protests over the weekend, blaming Poland’s prohibitive abortion law for the woman’s death. Women’s rights activists say this is having a chilling effect on doctors in this predominantly Roman Catholic country.

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The ministry stressed that it is in accordance with the law to terminate a pregnancy when a woman’s health is in danger, especially in the event of a threat to her life. It included guidance in the event of premature loss of amniotic fluid.

“It should be clearly emphasized that doctors should not be afraid to make obvious decisions based on their experience and available medical knowledge,” the ministry said.

A year ago, women in Poland could have an abortion in three cases: if the pregnancy occurred as a result of such a crime as rape, if the woman’s health or life was at risk, or in the case of irreparable defects in the fetus. The latter possibility was ruled out a year ago when the Constitutional Court ruled that it was contrary to Polish law.

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