Poland’s government released a statement Sunday reminding doctors that there are exceptions to the country’s strict abortion laws, such as when a pregnant woman’s life is at risk. The statement follows several recent protests following the pregnancy-related death of a 30-year-old woman in a Polish hospital.
According to the Polish government, under the Act of 1993 it is lawful to terminate a pregnancy immediately “[i]n the event of a situation that threatens the life or health of a woman.”
The government’s advice highlighted the standard of the National Obstetrics and Gynaecology Consultant, under which pregnancy termination should only be considered where there are signs of threat to the fetus after 22 and 6/7 weeks of pregnancy. According to the consultant, abortion is a decision that should be left in the hands of the woman after she is given comprehensive information on the threat to her life.
Doctors were also advised not to be afraid of making decisions based on their experiences and available medical knowledge. This is a factor which is believed to have led to the woman’s death, as a result of the recent tightening of Polish abortion laws.
Following week 23 of a pregnancy, provided there is no threat to the life of the woman, the pregnancy is expected to be continued. No national law allows an abortion at that stage.
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