Polish Woman Denied Abortion Takes Case to European Court
A Polish woman who suffered severe health consequences after being denied an abortion is taking her case before the European Court of Human Rights. Alicja Tysiac sought an abortion after three ophthalmologists predicted that carrying her child to term would likely further damage her failing eyesight. But the same three specialists, as well as a gynecologist, refused to authorize an abortion. When she gave birth, Tysiac's eye condition worsened dramatically as a result of retinal hemorrhage. Tysiac, a single mother to her three children, can now see no more than 12 feet in front of her.
Under the Catholic Church-sponsored Anti-Abortion Act of 1993, abortion in Poland is restricted to circumstances of rape or incest, severe birth defects evident in the fetus, or threat to the mother's life. However, the lack of specific medical criteria for making these determinations causes doctors to be reluctant to grant abortion certificates, according to the Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning. The Federation estimates that only 150-200 abortions are performed legally each year, compared to 180,000 annually before 1993.
Many doctors surveyed by the Federation refuse to perform an abortion even with certification that the woman was raped. Because of these obstacles, some women who qualify for a legal abortion in Poland often choose to have the procedure done illegally at a private clinic or leave the country to find abortion services.
Media Resources: BBC 2/7/06; Jurist 2/8/06; Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning 2000 Report: "The Anti-Abortion Law in Poland"; Reuters 2/7/06;
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .