European Court Upholds Previous Ruling on Poland Woman Denied Abortion

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 25, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

European Court Upholds Previous Ruling on Poland Woman Denied Abortion Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 25,

Warsaw, Poland ( — The European Court of Human Rights issued a decision on Tuesday upholding its previous ruling making Poland pay a woman $52,000 for denying her an abortion. The woman couldn’t get an abortion in 2000 after claiming that giving birth damaged her eyesight and she is now unable to take care of her three children.

The European Court of Human Rights sided with Alicja Tysiac, who is now 35, in a June ruling.

Tysiac went to doctors when she found out in February 2000 that she was pregnant a third time. Three ophthalmologists alleged that carrying the pregnancy to term would damage her eyesight but they refused to sign off on a paper needed to approve an abortion for health reasons.

Tysiac also consulted with a gynecologist who told her there was no medical reason to have an abortion.

After having a Cesarean section in November 2000, Tysiac claims her eyesight deteriorated considerably due to a retinal hemorrhage.

Poland appealed the first decision and the European court affirmed its previous ruling alleging the pro-life nation violated article 8 of the Convention on Human Rights.

Before the appeal, Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski said the Polish government had to appeal to stand up for its pro-life laws that prohibit most abortions. They are only allowed to save the life of the mother, in cases of rape or incest and if the unborn child has severe physical deformities.

"If we didn’t appeal we would have to ease the anti-abortion laws in Poland and this wouldn’t be good," Kaczynski told a news conference before the appeal.

Malta and Ireland are the only two other European nations that make abortions illegal.

The European Court of Human Rights couldn’t overturn Poland’s abortion law but ruled Tysiac’s rights were violated in a six to one vote in the June decision.

"Within the context of a controversy such as entitlement to a therapeutic abortion, the Polish State had failed to safeguard Ms. Tysiac’s right to the effective respect for her private life,” the court ruled back then.

It said the award for damages came because of the "considerable anguish and suffering, including her fears about her physical capacity to take care of another child."

However, the court rejected her bid to cover future medical expenses related to her eyesight problems.

Judge Javier Borrego Borrego of Spain, was the lone dissenter in the case.

"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Today the court has decided that a human being was born as a result of a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights," he wrote, according to a Bloomberg News report.

"According to this reasoning, there is a Polish child, currently six years old, whose right to be born contradicts the Convention. I would never have thought that the Convention would go so far, and I find it frightening,” he concluded.

As a single parent, Tysiac says she now can’t take care of her children and can’t see objects further than 12 feet away. Because of her condition, she currently receives $167 a month on disability pay from the government.

Tysiac filed a complaint against the gynecologist but an attorney dropped out of the case because there was no link between the doctor’s advice and the woman’s eye condition.