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12.10.08 - A woman in Poland was denied access to genetic prenatal examinations which would have enabled her to decide whether or not to seek a legal abortion in Poland. The Center’s application, filed with the European Court of Human Rights in December 2004, alleges violations of the to right to be free from inhuman and degrading treatment, private and family life, access to justice and non-discrimination.
Filing date: December 2004
Plaintiff(s): R.R., a woman who was denied the right to a prenatal examination and abortion.
Center Attorney(s): Christina Zampas
Partners: 1) Federation for Women in Family Planning and 2) University of Warsaw Law Clinic
Summary: Although Poland's abortion law is restrictive, it does allow for abortion due to fetal deformity. However, after her doctor noticed irregularities in a sonogram, a woman was denied a genetic prenatal examination, a prerequisite for undergoing an abortion in Poland. She was then denied access to an abortion to which she was legally entitled, because doctors and the hospitals were unwilling to perform even a legal abortion. The Polish regulations and laws governing access to legal abortions are weak and ineffective, and this case is reflective of the situation faced by many women in Poland and in other countries in the region.
The plaintiffs are alleging violations under several articles of the European Convention on Human Rights, including articles 3, 8, 13, and 14, which relate to the right to be free from inhuman and degrading treatment, private and family life, access to justice, and nondiscrimination. The Federation for Women in Family Planning, the University of Warsaw Law Clinic, and the Center for Reproductive Rights are collaborating organizations on this case. The application was filed to the Court in December 2004 and in 2008 the state submitted its response. A decision is expected in 2009.
The Court issued its landmark decision on May 26, 2011, establishing that Poland was in violation of Article 3 (the right to be free from inhuman and degrading treatment) and Article 8 (the right to respect for private life) of the European Convention on Human Rights.