Legal abortions fall by 90% in Poland after court eliminates exception for fetal defects

The number of legal abortions taking place in Poland decreased by 90% in 2021, following a court ruling that banned abortion in the case of a fetal medical diagnosis such as Down syndrome.

According to a report by the Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita, data from the Ministry of Health shows that the number of legal abortions in the country decreased from 1,076 in 2020 to 107 in 2021 following changes to the country’s abortion law.

On Oct. 22, 2020, the Constitutional Court ruled the law’s exception for fetal defects violated the constitutionally protected right to life. The exception had permitted physicians to recommend and perform abortions in cases with a “high probability of severe and irreversible impairment of the fetus or an incurable disease threatening its life.”

The court ruling left in place exceptions in cases of rape and incest and when the life and health of the mother are at risk.

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