26 January 2022 – One year after the ruling of Poland’s discredited Constitutional Tribunal banning access to abortion in almost all circumstances took effect, its devastating impact on the lives of women and all those in need of abortion care continues. The ruling has increased the extreme barriers women seeking access to abortion face and has had tragic consequences for many of them and their families.
Since the ruling took effect on 27 January 2021, more than 1000 women have turned to the European Court of Human Rights in an effort to vindicate their rights, challenging Poland’s highly restrictive abortion law and seeking justice. These groundbreaking cases mark the first direct challenges to be filed before the European Court against Poland’s abortion law and the 2020 Constitutional Tribunal ruling. The applicants claim that the Polish abortion law causes them grave harm and violates their rights to privacy and freedom from torture and other ill-treatment. The Court is expected to begin ruling on some of these cases: K.B. v. Poland and 3 other applications; K.C. v. Poland and 3 other applications; and A.L.- B. v. Poland and 3 other applications.
Nine leading international human rights organizations have filed third-party interventions to the European Court of Human Rights in these cases, including Amnesty International, the Center for Reproductive Rights, Human Rights Watch, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPF EN), Women Enabled International, Women’s Link Worldwide, and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The interventions provide evidence and analysis drawing on international human rights law, comparative European law and guidelines from the World Health Organization. They outline the profound implications that highly restrictive abortion laws have on the lives and health of women and girls of reproductive age.