Poland's highest court issued a ruling banning abortion due to genetic disorders, effectively reversing a policy that allowed more than a thousand children to be aborted in 2019.
Abortion is illegal in Poland except in cases of rape, when the mother's life is in danger, or if any form of health is in jeopardy. Cases of abortion due to genetic disorders or disease fell under the latter category. In 2019, 1,074 unborn children were aborted under this provision, including 435 with Down syndrome. These accounted for 97% of all remaining abortions in the nation.
In an 11-2 ruling, the Polish Constitutional Tribunal said that this selective allowance was a violation of human rights under the Polish constitution. Pro-life advocates had argued the same principle in their petitions to the court.
"Since the attribute of human dignity belongs to man from the moment of the inception of human life, and the protection of the right to life is a direct consequence of the protection of human dignity..." said pro-life advocates in a petition, "The Constitution of the Republic of Poland leads to the conclusion that the right to life is a human right in stage of development, at which he is also entitled to the protection of human dignity, and therefore also in the prenatal period."
The court, led by Chief Justice Julia Przylebska, also compared aborting children with genetic disorders to eugenics, a popular scientific theory throughout the 19th and 20th centuries that advocated improving human evolution by sterilizing and killing those deemed weak.
Several hundred protesters gathered outside the court after the ruling was announced. Other prominent European officials decried the decision. Nearly 800 doctors also signed a letter to the court requesting that these abortion allowances remain legal.
"There can be no protection of the dignity of an individual without the protection of life," said the court in its ruling.