Polish Woman Awarded Damages After Abortion Refusal

The European Court of Human Rights has awarded a Polish woman more than $30,000 in damages after she was refused an abortion despite warnings from her doctor that continuing the pregnancy could cause her to go blind. Alicja Tysiac suffers from severe myopia, and when she became pregnant for the third time in 2000 she consulted three ophthalmologists who each concluded her eyesight would be damaged further if she carried the pregnancy to term. However, despite Tysiac’s requests, all three doctors refused to issue a certificate for the pregnancy to be terminated on medical grounds, according to the court.

After giving birth Tysiac suffered a retinal hemorrhage which caused her vision to deteriorate significantly and she has been declared disabled by a panel of doctors. Poland currently has one of the strictest abortion bans in Europe, with the procedure only permitted in cases of rape or incest, fetal abnormality, or danger to the life or health of the woman. The court ruled that Poland has no effective legal framework for pregnant women to assert their right to abortion on medical grounds.

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