Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Don't Forget Poland!

That has to do with the Axis of Good in the Bush wars against terror. But we shouldn't forget Poland in other ways, either. For example, as Rorschach points out, Poland has very restrictive laws on abortion. Abortion is only allowed for pregnancies which result from rape or when the woman's life or health is endangered. But what are the medical grounds that qualify a woman for abortion? Not many, it seems:

The European court of human rights ruled yesterday that Poland was failing to guarantee access to lawful abortions in a test case hailed as a victory for women across Europe and a blow to the deeply conservative government in Warsaw.

The Strasbourg-based court awarded damages to Alicia Tysiac, 35, a single mother of three from Warsaw who is nearly blind. She sued the Polish government after being denied an abortion in 2000 despite medical testimony that her pregnancy would seriously impair her failing eyesight.

In a ruling that obliges all 46 member states of the Council of Europe to ensure abortions are available where they are legal, the court found that Ms Tysiac's privacy rights had been violated and her treatment had caused her "severe distress and anguish". She was awarded costs and €25,000 (£17,000) in damages. After giving birth, Ms Tysiac suffered a retinal haemorrhage, making her eyesight so poor she needed daily medical treatment. She can see no further than 1.5 metres and fears she will go completely blind.

The gist of the court's argument has to do with limiting access to legal abortions. Now wouldn't that be interesting if similar cases could somehow be brought up here in the United States? Limiting access to legal abortions is one of the main tools of the anti-choice legislators everywhere. This is done by hounding abortion clinics, by requiring them to comply with impossible and every-expanding lists of zoning regulations and by attempts to control the ability of minors to cross state borders in order to get an abortion.