Demonstration by opponents of restrictive abortion policies in Poland (in Warsaw in June)
IMAGO/Aleksander Kalka/ IMAGO/ZUMA Wire
Because of its restrictive abortion laws, Poland is already heavily criticized internationally.
The latest reports from the country should only fuel this: A 14-year-old was rejected in several clinics where she had tried to have an abortion.
The teenager is mentally disabled and became pregnant after being raped by her uncle, according to women's rights group Federa.
Now Poland's Health Minister Adam Niedzielski has also gotten involved: "We are appalled by this case and our reaction to it is clear," he told journalists on Monday.
Women's rights groups and the opposition in the country are now once again vociferously calling for the Polish abortion laws to be relaxed.
Since an almost total ban came into force in 2021, abortions in the country are only permitted if the pregnancy is the result of rape or endangers the life or health of the woman.
However, the case of the 14-year-old made it clear that even in such cases, women can be made difficult to have an abortion.
According to women's rights group Federa, the teen was unaware of her pregnancy.
However, her aunt found out about her uncle's sexual abuse and sought an abortion.
However, doctors at several hospitals in eastern Poland refused to perform the procedure.
They invoked a conscience clause, on the basis of which doctors can refuse an abortion if it contradicts their religious beliefs.
»Barbaric and inhuman«
Only after Federa interceded for the girl was an abortion carried out in a hospital in Warsaw.
Several opposition representatives called for an amendment to the abortion law after the case became known.
The conscience clause is "barbaric and inhuman" and must be abolished, said Katarzyna Kotula of the left-liberal Wiosna party.
Center-left politician Barbara Nowacka of the Citizens' Coalition announced a draft law by the opposition to abolish the conscience clause in the Sejm.
In October 2020, Poland's highest court, with the support of the national-conservative government, declared the abortion of severely malformed fetuses to be unconstitutional, paving the way for a tightening of the already very restrictive abortion law.