Poland must compensate teenage rape victim denied abortion
PR dla Zagranicy
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Poland must compensate a rape victim who was denied an abortion in 2008.
Photo: European Court of Human Rights
The Strasbourg court concluded that Poland should pay 30,000 euro to the teenager, who was 14 when she sought an abortion at a hospital in the city of Lublin, south east Poland.
A further 15,000 euro is to be paid to the girl's mother, as well as legal costs.
According to the court, the case presented two violations of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, regarding “the determination of access to lawful abortion”and “the disclosure of the applicants’ personal data.”
The court stressed the difficulties of the girl “in obtaining access to an abortion, in particular due to the lack of a clear legal framework, procrastination of medical staff and also as a result of harassment.”
Although Poland's abortion laws are among the strictest in Europe, abortion is possible if the pregnancy results from rape or a criminal act.
In May 2008, the defendant's mother obtained a certificate from a local prosecutor confirming that the pregnancy was caused by a criminal act.
However, a Lublin hospital refused to carry out the treatment and attempts to have the abortion in Warsaw were sabotaged by anti-abortion campaigners amid intense media scrutiny.
The girl ultimately managed to have the abortion in Gdansk, northern Poland, after the girl's mother complained to the Ministry of Health.
The Strasbourg court also ruled that there had been a violation of Article 5 and 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment).
Judges concluded that “the applicants had been given misleading and contradictory information and had not received objective medical counselling; and, the fact that access to abortion was a subject of heated debate in Poland did not absolve the medical staff from their professional obligations regarding medical secrecy.” (nh)