Council of Europe’s Harassment Against Poland

September 14, 2021
The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe

The European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ) provides various levels of legal assistance in the fight for life across Europe. It is empowered to offer its assistance to government structures. It has already intervened in favor of Poland a year ago. It has provided an update on recent interventions.

Complaints against Poland regarding abortion are on the rise at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ) intervened in September 2020 in the B.B. v. Poland case, still pending at the Court, in which the Polish law on abortion and conscientious objection is being challenged.

In its latest press release, the ECLJ reports 13 new pro-abortion petitions filed with the ECHR against the Polish government.

On July 1, 2021, 12 petitions claiming a right to eugenic abortion were communicated. All were submitted by Polish women saying they were very “worried” and “stressed” about not being able to eliminate a potentially disabled child.

This practice was banned, following a case before the Polish Constitutional Court in which the ECLJ was a third party. The European Court has authorized the ECLJ to intervene in these 12 cases.

Jolanta Anna Zawadzka's claim was communicated on June 29, 2021. This feminist activist - condemned for having disrupted a Mass in Warsaw in 2016 in protest against the Church's position on abortion - invokes her right to freedom of expression before the ECHR. Her lawyers make this case part of the demand for abortion rights in Poland.

It is in this context that further proceedings against Poland are pending before the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The ECLJ intervened in this procedure in July 2021. Explanations.

The ECHR has already condemned Poland on three occasions due to what is deemed ineffective access to abortion, in the decisions on Tysiąc (2007), R.R. (2011), and P. and S. (2012). In other words, it was not about forcing Poland to further liberalize abortion, but to allow timely and unimpeded access to already legal abortions.

As with all decision by the ECHR, Poland has an obligation to comply with these three decisions. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe is responsible for supervising this execution. However, the surveillance procedure is surprisingly still open, for 9 to 14 years after these judgments.

It is in fact abusive, for two reasons: on the one hand Poland has largely fulfilled its obligations and on the other hand the recent requests of the Committee of Ministers go beyond its mandate.

The ECLJ submitted written observations regarding the follow-up to these decisions. Two other organizations, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Federation for Women and Family Planning, also intervened in this procedure.

The ECLJ reminded the Committee of Ministers that Poland has already responded to its requests. The monitoring procedure in the Tysiąc, R.R., and P. and S. judgments should therefore already have been terminated.

In its observations, the ECLJ denounced the two excessive demands of the Committee of Ministers. The Committee has in fact greatly extended its area of ​​supervision, unrelated to the three judgments it supervises.

Thus, the Committee considers that Poland should reduce the right to conscientious objection [of doctors. Editor's note], in particular to remedy the low recourse to abortion in certain regions. The ECLJ defended the right to conscientious objection and demonstrated the lack of connection between the practice of conscientious objection and the low number of abortions in Poland.

On the other hand, the Committee called on Poland to justify itself on the judgment of the [Polish] Constitutional Court of October 22, 2020, recognizing that eugenic abortion is contrary to human dignity. The ECLJ recalled that Poland can freely decide on its legislative position on abortion, according to its Constitution and its freedom in this area by the Council of Europe.

Eugenics at The Heart of The Battle

It should be noted that, both at the ECHR and the Committee of Ministers, as well as in the pro-abortion protests in Poland, it is the issue of eugenic abortion that is at the heart of the battle. Before their ban, these abortions mainly targeted children with Down's syndrome. People with Down's syndrome do not suffer and are generally happy.

This demand for eugenic abortion is championed in the name of women's rights. However, it is a pattern that is based on a characteristic of the baby, unrelated to the mother. Abortion is therefore only an assumed separation between “healthy” children and sick or disabled children.

This is not a general denial of the right to be born, it is a rejection of people who are sick, handicapped, and people with Down's syndrome. This is called eugenics and it is no less shocking before birth than after.

Poland is under no obligation to respond to excessive demands from the Committee of Ministers, which infringe on its sovereignty. On the contrary, Poland should be commended for the commitments it is making in favor of preserving the lives of unborn children, including those with disabilities.