Theresa Zettl

After the death of a pregnant woman, tens of thousands of people in Poland protested against the rigid abortion law. The woman is considered the first victim of the almost complete ban on abortion that has been in place for a year.

The death of a pregnant woman has sparked demonstrations in Warsaw and other Polish cities. Participants in the protests held up photos of 30-year-old Izabela and blamed the country’s rigid abortion law for her death. Among the demonstrators in Warsaw was former EU Council President and current Polish opposition leader Donald Tusk.


Under the slogan “No more one”, the demonstrators gathered in front of the Constitutional Tribunal in Warsaw and moved on from there to the Ministry of Health. Last year, the tribunal had tightened the already strict abortion law in Poland and also banned abortion due to damage to the foetus.

The woman died of septic shock in a hospital in Pszczyna in September, but her death only became known last week. Her family and her lawyer explained that the pregnant woman had not had enough amniotic fluid. However, doctors had not initiated a termination, but had waited for the foetus to die.

The attending doctors have since been suspended, and the public prosecutor’s office has started an investigation. According to women’s rights groups, she is the first victim of the almost complete ban on abortion that has been in force for a year.

Hardly any legal abortions

In Poland, there are fewer than 2,000 legal abortions every year. However, women’s rights organisations estimate that about 200,000 Polish women have illegal abortions or go abroad for them every year.

Before the new restriction, pregnant women in Poland could only have an abortion in three cases: if the pregnancy was the result of a crime such as rape, if the pregnant woman’s life was in danger or if the foetus showed permanent damage. The last option was removed by the tribunal’s decision. Supporters of the new ruling said it had not been proven that the restriction had led to the woman’s death.

Joanna Burnos shared some pictures with us of yesterday’s protest marches in Warsaw.

Abortion law demonstrations all over Poland
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