Polish president Duda welcomes landmark abortion ruling

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Polish president Andrzej Duda welcomed a landmark court ruling on abortion Friday.

He told the newspaper Dziennik Gazeta Prawna Oct. 23 that he supported the constitutional court's verdict that a law permitting abortion for fetal abnormalities was unconstitutional.

"I have said it many times and I have never concealed it, that abortion for so-called eugenic reasons should not be allowed in Poland. I believed and believe that every child has a right to life," he said in an interview with the legal and business daily.

Duda, who was reelected by a narrow margin in July, is associated with the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS). A group of 119 MPs belonging to PiS, as well two smaller parties, asked the constitutional court to review the country's abortion law last year.

They argued that a 1993 law permitting abortion in cases of fetal abnormality was incompatible with the Polish constitution. 

In the highly anticipated ruling Oct. 22 -- the feast day of Polish pope St. John Paul II -- the Constitutional Tribunal in Warsaw declared that the law was unconstitutional.

The court found that abortion in the case of a high probability of severe and irreversible impairment of the fetus, or an incurable disease that threatens its life, was inconsistent with constitutional provisions protecting human life.

The ruling, which cannot be appealed, could lead to a significant reduction in the number of abortions in the country. 

Until now, Polish law has permitted abortion only in cases of rape or incest, threat to the mother's life, or fetal abnormality. 

Approximately 1,000 legal abortions take place in Poland each year. The vast majority are carried out in cases of fetal abnormality.

Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, president of the Polish bishops' conference, hailed the verdict, which cannot be appealed. 

He said: "By its decision, the constitutional court affirmed that the idea that 'life is not worth living' is in flagrant contradiction with the principle of a democratic state governed by law." 

"The life of every human being, from conception to natural death, has the same value before God and must be protected to the same degree by the state." 

Dunja Mijatović, the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, criticized the ruling, describing it on Twitter as "a sad day for women's rights."

Police detained 15 people following protests against the ruling in Warsaw on Thursday evening, Reuters reported Oct. 23.

Mikołaj Pawlak, Poland's Ombudsman for Children, praised the ruling on Twitter.

"The decision of the Constitutional Tribunal declaring eugenic abortion inconsistent with the fundamental law is the victory of life over death. It is the restoration of equality of rights for every human being, including the unborn," he wrote.

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