ECHR Case No. 34104/22 (June 21, 2023)
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Poland violated the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) by criminalizing abortion in cases of foetal impairment. The ECHR held that Poland's abortion law was not proportionate to its legitimate aim of protecting the unborn child and that it unduly interfered with women's reproductive rights.
In 2020, the Polish government enacted a law that banned abortion in virtually all cases, including cases of foetal impairment. The law made it a crime for doctors to perform abortions in cases of foetal impairment, and it subjected women who sought such abortions to prison sentences of up to three years.
The law was challenged by a number of Polish women and organizations, who argued that it violated their rights under the ECHR. The ECHR heard oral arguments in the case in October 2022 and issued its decision on June 21, 2023. The ECHR held that Poland's abortion law violated Article 8 of the ECHR, which protects the right to private life and family life. The ECHR found that Poland's abortion law was not proportionate to its legitimate aim of protecting the unborn child and that it unduly interfered with women's reproductive rights.
The ECHR stated that Poland's abortion law "creates a climate of fear and uncertainty for women who are already in a difficult situation" and that it "has a chilling effect on their right to freedom of choice." The ECHR also found that Poland's abortion law "is not in line with the general trend in Europe towards liberalization of abortion laws."
The ECHR ordered Poland to pay compensation to the women who had brought the case and to amend its abortion law so that it is in compliance with the ECHR. The ECHR's decision in A.N. v. Hospital Mater Dei is a landmark decision that has had a significant impact on the availability of abortion in Poland. The decision has been welcomed by supporters of abortion rights and condemned by opponents of abortion rights. The ECHR's decision in A.N. v. Hospital Mater Dei was widely reported on by the media and quickly went viral on social media. The decision sparked a nationwide debate about abortion rights in Poland and led to a number of protests and demonstrations.