Poland: the Constitutional Court extends conscientious objection


In its ruling, on Wednesday 7th October 2015, the Constitutional Court of Poland extended the right to conscientious objection for physicians.

Though it deemed constitutional the fact of asking a physician to act against his conscience in the case of a mortal danger or a serious threat to the patient’s life, it however deemed unconstitutional the fact of asking a physician to act against his conscience in “any other serious case”.

It also judged unconstitutional the fact of asking a physician, who has expressed a conscientious objection, to redirect a patient towards another physician who agrees to carry out the medical service that he himself has refused to do.

 

This new decision of the Polish Court is an important one for physicians who refuse to carry out abortions [1]. Indeed, the European Court on Human Rights (ECHR) is putting pressure on Poland in order to limit the freedom of conscientious objection of its physicians so as to ensure the people a better access to abortion (Cf. Gènéthique of 27th may 2011).

 

In Poland, this ruling was given on the anniversary of the rejection of the McCafferty report to the Council of Europe, replaced by an adopted text reaffirming that the objection of the conscience is a human right (7th October 2010).

 

 

 [1]In Poland, abortion has been authorized since 1993 on three conditions: risk for the life or health of the mother, pregnancy resulting from an illegal act (rape, incest, etc.), or serious malformation of the foetus.