Mentally disabled girl, 14, raped by her uncle is refused an abortion by Polish hospitalsAuthor: Yuvi January 27, 2023
A disabled 14-year-old who was raped by her own uncle has been refused an abortion in Poland, sparking outrage in the conservative country.
The Catholic nation has some of the strictest laws on abortion in Europe, and doctors can even refuse to provide them on ethical grounds, a law which has been slammed by women’s rights activists.
Termination is only legal when the pregnancy is the result of a criminal act such as rape or incest, or when the woman’s health is at risk.
Even though the underage girl was clearly a victim of abuse, two separate hospitals in her region of Podlasie refused to treat her or even tell her where she could receive a legal abortion, a violation of the law.
Pictured: A woman takes part in a protest in 2020 against tighter abortion laws in Poland
The girl, who did not understand she was pregnant, was taken by her aunt to doctors who treated them ‘brutally and inhumanely’, she claimed.
The aunt had even provided documents from a prosecutor saying an alleged rape had occurred and an abortion would be lawful, but doctors still turned them away.
They were allegedly told: ‘Not here, go away. We don’t know where. It’s none of our concern.’
The aunt contacted reproductive organisation Federa who helped take the young girl to Warsaw where an abortion was performed safely and successfully.
But the initial refusal of the local doctors has provoked outrage in the devoutly Christian nation where 92 per cent of its population are Catholic.
Federa said in a statement: ‘Warsaw doctors couldn’t understand the conduct of the doctors from Podlasie. No empathy is an understatement.
‘We have no words of indignation at such treatment.’
The girl, who did not understand she was pregnant, was taken by her aunt to doctors who treated them ‘brutally and inhumanely’, she claimed (file image)
A health ministry spokesman has confirmed that local hospitals failed to comply with the law and a probe has been launched.
Wojciech Andrusiewicz told TVN: ‘Such an abortion should either be carried out or they should indicate a place where such an abortion can be carried out, so the hospital acted against the statuary provisions.’
Dr Artur Plachta, gynecologist and member of the Supreme Medical Chamber, told Fakty: ‘I am ashamed of them because they did not help the child.
‘This child suffered two dramas: she was raped by someone, even the closest person, and now she received a third “gift” from her medical colleagues: she was not helped.’
The commissioner for patients’ rights also said that while individual doctors can invoke the ‘conscience clause’ and refuse to perform an abortion, an entire hospital cannot.
Conservative values have played a growing role in public life in Poland since the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party came into power in 2015 on a promise to defend what it sees as the nation’s traditional, Catholic character.
An estimated 100,000 took to the streets in 2020 to protest against draconian new abortion laws
Opposition politicians are now calling for reform over the abortion laws which were strengthened in 2020, to much protest.
Then, even abortions for malformed fetuses were banned, and 100,000 demonstrators took to the streets against the harsh measures.
Aleksandra Gajewska MP said: ‘This draconian law and climate of intimidation, falsely understood as defence of life, which applies only to the fetus and does not apply to the mother in any way, allowed doctors in hospitals in Podlasie to refuse to help a 14-year-old girl.’
Katarzyna Kotula, an MP from the left-wing Lewica party, said: ‘The conscience clause is a barbaric and inhumane law repeatedly exploited by doctors. It should be abolished.’
Paweł Krutul, an MP from the same party who comes from Podlasie, added: ‘Young girls are suffering because of your stupid laws. See what fate you have prepared for Polish women. It’s a disgrace.’
Donald Tusk, the former president of the European Council turned opposition leader in Poland, also blasted the government over the scandal.
He said pregnancies are now in the hands of ‘prosecutors or ruling party politicians’.