Poles Protest Strict Abortion Law After Pregnant Woman Death | News

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Protesters rallied in Warsaw and several other Polish cities to denounce the country’s restrictive abortion law, which they believe led to the death of a pregnant woman who had health problems.

Protesters on Saturday showed portraits of the woman, Iza, 30, who died of septic shock in a hospital in Pszczyna, southern Poland. She died in September, but her death was only made known in the last week.

Doctors at the hospital avoided terminating her 22-week pregnancy despite the fact that her fetus did not have enough amniotic fluid to survive, her family and a lawyer said.

Doctors have been suspended and prosecutors are investigating.

Women’s rights activists say the woman was a victim of the new Polish abortion law. Last year the Polish Constitutional Tribunal ruled that terminating a pregnancy due to congenital defects is against the Polish constitution.

Activists say doctors in Poland, a strongly Catholic nation, now wait for a fetus with severe defects to die in the womb rather than perform an abortion. Illegal abortion can lead to a sentence of up to eight years in prison.

Donald Tusk, the former leader of the European Union who is now the leader of the Polish opposition, took part in the protest in Warsaw, under the motto “No more woman to die”. Protesters gathered in front of the Constitutional Court, then marched to the health ministry and turned on their cell phones in memory of the dead woman.

Protests also took place in Gdansk, Poznan, Wroclaw, Bialystok and other cities.

Before the new restriction, women in Poland could only have abortions in three cases: if the pregnancy was caused by rape, if the woman’s life was at risk or in the case of irreparable defects in the fetus. The last possibility was removed by the court verdict.

Proponents of the new restriction say it is unclear whether it led to the woman’s death.

Health Minister Adam Niedzielski said the case is “difficult” and needs careful analysis. She said instructions will be issued to make it clear to obstetricians that “a woman’s safety is a reason for terminating a pregnancy.”

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