Case study: woman sues Poland after she is denied abortion

In the year 2007, a woman identified as Tysiąc took Poland to court after she was refused an abortion and gave birth to a baby which resulted in her previously recognised eye condition deteriorating to the point that she could no longer look after her children.

She had already tried to sue the doctor who refused to allow her abortion, but failed in Polish courts. So she took her case to the European Courts of Human Rights and won just over 100,000zł in damages and nearly 60,000zł in costs.

The woman’s argument was that,under Polish law, she ought to have a right to abortion because continuing with the pregnancy would endanger her health. The ECHR voted in her favour, but one judge said that “the Court has decided that a human being was born as a result of a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. According to this reasoning, there is a Polish child, currently six years old, whose right to be born contradicts the Convention. I would never have thought that the Convention would go so far, and I find it frightening.”

Read the full judgement of the ECHR here.

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