Alicja Tysiac Wins Against Polish Government

News author: Magdalena Pocheć
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2007-03-26 23:44:03 / News read 4013 reading
On 20th of March the European Court of Human Rights announced its verdict in favour of Alicja Tysiac, a Polish woman who was denied access to abortion although she was legally entitled to it.

The court decided that Poland has violated Article 8 (Right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Poland is urged to pay compensation to the woman.

Strasbourg’s decision coincides with a controversial debate on access to abortion in Poland. There is a political initiative to change the Constitution by incorporating the phrase from the moment of conception into Article 38 on the right to life and Article 30 on the right to dignity, that will lead to further restrictions of the one of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in Europe. Most probably, the Polish Parliament will vote on this amendment next week. It is difficult to gauge how Tysiac’s case will affect MEP’s decision. Alicja Tysiac is a living example of the effects on women of the existing law in an increasingly conservative political environment. The anti-abortion law is much more stricter de facto than de jure, and, as the as European Court of Human Rights’ verdict confirms, their human rights violated.

The winning applicant, Alicja Tysiac, is a mother of three children. She has suffered from vision impairment and degeneration of the retina since early childhood. Ms Tysiac's condition was classified as a second-degree disability when she entered the work-force, and she has had difficulties finding employment. Pregnancy and labour with her third child caused further retinal degeration. Abortion is lawful in Poland under the following circumstances: when the pregnancy results from rape or incest, when the pregnancy threatens the women’s health or life, and when the foetus suffers from a severe abnormality. Ms Tysiac was therefore denied access to an abortion she was legally entitled to: and this was the basis on which the Court ruled that her human rights had been violated.

Magdalena Pocheć

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