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'No more women should die': MEPs slam Poland's near-total abortion ban

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By Euronews
Protestors gather outside Poland's Constitutional Tribunal in Warsaw, Poland, on Nov .6, 2021, to protest against the restrictive abortion law.
Protestors gather outside Poland's Constitutional Tribunal in Warsaw, Poland, on Nov .6, 2021, to protest against the restrictive abortion law.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski

MEPs on Thursday approved a resolution condemning Poland's near-total ban on abortion and called on Warsaw to ensure no other women die as a result of the strict restrictions.

In the resolution — passed with 374 votes in favour, 124 against and 55 abstention — MEPs "reiterated their strong condemnation of the illegitimate Constitutional Tribunal's ruling of 22 October 2020 imposing a near-total ban on abortion and putting women's health and lives at risk".

"MEPs regret that, due to the restrictive legislation, women have to seek unsafe abortions, travel abroad to obtain abortions or carry their pregnancy to term against their will, including in cases of fatal foetal impairment," the resolution also states.

Lawmakers also "call on the Polish government to ensure that no more women die because of this restrictive law".

It comes after it emerged earlier this month that a 30-year-old pregnant woman, named Izabela, lost her life to septic shock. Activists claim her doctors did not carry out a life-saving abortion, waiting instead for the foetus to die because of the legislation.

Only 300 Polish women accessed abortion services in their home country over the previous 10 months on the grounds of a threat to life and death. Abortion Without Borders, however, helped 34,000 women from Poland access an abortion, which MEPs say, "represents only a fraction of the total number of Polish women needing support to access this service".

MEPs also urged other member states to facilitate cross-border access to abortion, suggesting that Polish women be granted free and safe abortion in other national healthcare systems.

Lastly, they warned of "the increasingly hostile and violent environment for women rights defenders in Poland" and the "disproportionate use of violence against protesters by law enforcement" and called on authorities to ensure those who attack protesters are held accountable.

Euronews has reached out to the Polish government for comment.

The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) European Network welcomed the resolution.

"The European Parliament is showing solidarity and standing shoulder to shoulder with Women Reproductive Rights Defenders that hit the street all over Poland to protest for Izabela’s death," the NGO said in a statement.

"The strong position of the European Parliament is particularly meaningful today, the day of the Polish National Independence.

"We see the attacks to democracy and to the European Union in Warsaw and the answer of the European Parliament has been loud and clear. The EP is the voice of European citizens and they clearly stated that this is not what Europeans can tolerate," it added.