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Abortion Laws in Poland

Updated: Dec 2, 2020

Thousands of women in Poland have been protesting since October 22, 2020 because of the new abortion law passed by the Constitutional Tribunal (constitutional tribunal is the constitutional court of republic of Poland).


In Poland until 1932, abortion was banned without any exception, in the same year the new penal court (a document that compiles all, or a significant amount of, a particular jurisdiction's criminal law) legalized abortion only when there was a medical reason.

During second world war, the penalties for abortion were increased and was only permitted if the fetus was deformed or disabled (the effect of law was from 1932 to 1956). In 1956, the Sejm (Sejm is the lower house of the bicameral parliament of the government) legalized abortion where women were experiencing difficult living condition. In 1959, 1969, 1981 and 1990 the procedural requirement needed for obtaining a legal abortion were changed several times over the years. The major change came in 1993, where the laws were tightened, removing entirely the difficult living conditions as for abortions.

Since the government has banned abortion, women are refusing to go to work, drive, cook at home, or do anything until the ban is dropped. Polish women are demanding the right to access proper abortion care.

As per the new law, abortion is legal in the case of :

  • Rape

  • Incest

  • If the women's life is endangered by the continuation of pregnancy

  • Irreparable damage to fetus

And is only illegal in situations of fetal defects.

Since Poland has some of the strictest abortion laws in Europe, women usually go to other countries to terminate their pregnancies if they can afford it. For the women who can't afford to, they must travel to other countries where they are forced to give birth to a child with major defects and who is, in the end, not going to survive.

In 2016, the Poland organization proposed that the amendment legislation should ban abortion in all cases except to save a woman’s life. When the bill to ban abortion was debated in Sejm on September 22, the Razem Party (a left wing political party in Poland), had organized a demonstration called the Czarny protest (also known as the Black protest). On October 6, legislators voted the bill down. As for some statistics: In 2016 there were 10,000 and 150,000 illegal abortions per year compared to 1000 and 2000 legal abortions. From this, it can be concluded that most of the women in Poland are against the abortion law since many Polish women got abortions even though it was illegal. The president of Constitutional Tribunals, Julia Przyłębska, said that allowing abortion in case of fetal abnormality legalized "Eugenic practices with regard to an unborn child, thus denying it the respect and protection of human rights".

Polish women are demanding the right to access to abortion care. Women from many parts of Europe and America are sending solidarity to the women protesting in Poland. Poland has decided to delay the abortion law. “The Discussion is going on and it would be good to take some time for a Dialogue and for finding a new position in this situation, which is difficult and stirs high emotions.” - Michael Dworczyk

Read in detail : Poland delays abortion ban as nationwide protests continue.

There are many countries where abortion is totally illegal as well as countries where it is the opposite.


There are many regulations surrounding abortion, as it is quite a controversial topic. Learn about the different abortion laws in different countries.

In Brazil, abortion is considered a crime against human life. It is prohibited in all circumstances by article 124-127 of the penal code. Abortion is only legal in the case of rape, or if the baby is a danger to the mother's life. A survey in 2020 by Instituto Locomotiva found that 66% of Brazilians are favorable of abortion in case of rape and 34% are against it.17% of people of other religion,18% of Catholics, 23% without religion and 31% of Evangelicals are against rape.

In Columbia, abortion is only legal if the baby is a danger to the mother's life, is there is life threatening malfunctions, or in the case of rape. The Columbian Institute of Family Welfare (ICBF) oppose abortion as a family planning measure but gave a favorable opinion to the decriminalization of abortion in certain cases. Women are demanding safe abortion from Constitutional Court.

In Germany, it is illegal under section 218 of the criminal code, and is only allowed in first trimester upon condition of mandatory counseling or in case of medical necessities.

For abortion in both cases, mothers need to do counselling beforehand called Schwangerschaftskonfliktberatung (pregnancy-conflict counseling). Activists in German demand legalization of abortion with the help of ongoing demonstrations. "My Valley Belongs To Me" is a movement protesting the abortion related articles of the criminal court back in the 70's.

In Spain abortion is legal upon request up to 14 weeks of pregnancy and at later stages for the health of the woman or fetal defects. A high proportion of people in Spain are against abortion because they are religious but there are still people who are protesting.

For Russia, abortion is legal in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, with an exception up to 22 weeks if pregnancy is result of rape, or if it is a medical necessity, it can be any time. A survey shows that 72% of Russian people are against abortion.

In India, abortion can be performed on various grounds until 20 weeks of pregnancy, or in an exceptional case, court may allow it after 24 weeks. A report shows that 80% of women support Abortion law and 6% doesn't support it. Only the doctor gets to decide if the women can have abortion.

In Ireland abortion is legal during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, later in cases where the woman's life or health is at risk, or if there is fatal fetal abnormality. 66% of the adult Irish population support legal abortions.

In the Philippines, it is illegal in every circumstances, because 2017,1000 women die every year from complications related to abortion. Filipino Catholic women are coming together to protest against abortion.

That concludes this article on abortion laws. If you are passionate about this subject, and want to help make abortion available to everyone, head over to our resources page where you can find additional information and petitions!

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