The Polish Constitutional Court ruled in October that the provision of a 1993 law that allowed women to have an abortion due to a serious and irreversible defect or incurable disease of the child does not comply with the constitution.
The provision had been used to justify about 98% of the abortion in the country. However, as of Wednesday night, that provision is officially no more.
The implementation of the court’s ruling was initially delayed after it provoked months of heated protests, but the government suddenly announced on Wednesday that the ruling was being published in the government’s journal, thus bringing it into force, reports the New York Times.
According to the government edict, the 1993 provision “legaliz[ed] eugenic practices in the field of the right to life of an unborn child and ma[d]e the protection of the right to life of an unborn child conditional on his state of health, which constitutes prohibited direct discrimination,” and “legaliz[ed] the termination of pregnancy without sufficient justification by the need to protect another value, right, or constitutional freedom and by using unspecified criteria … thus violating the constitutional guarantees for human life.”
Thousands of protestors again took to the streets on Wednesday, chanting slogans like, “I think, I feel, I decide!” and “Freedom of choice instead of terror!”
With the ruling now in effect, abortion is legal only in cases of rape or incest, or threat to the woman’s life. According to the New York Times, 1,074 of the 1,100 abortions performed in the country last year were due to fetal abnormalities, which is no longer a legal justification.
Officials said the government will now focus on assisting parents of disabled children, reports CNN.
“The state can no longer take a life away only because someone is sick, disabled, in poor health,” said Parliament member Bartlomiej Wroblewski.