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Poland abortion ban victim's family says 'nobody cared about her life'

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By Isabel da Silva
Protestors gather outside Poland's Constitutional Tribunal in Warsaw, Poland, on Saturday, Nov.6, 2021
Protestors gather outside Poland's Constitutional Tribunal in Warsaw, Poland, on Saturday, Nov.6, 2021   -   Copyright  Czarek Sokolowski/AP Photo, File   -  

The family of a Polish woman that died due to Poland's restrictive rules on abortion have spoken out about her ordeal.  

Izabela Sajbor, 30, died of septic shock last year when she was 22 weeks pregnant.

Thousands took to the streets to protest the victim of the country's near-total abortion ban, which was approved in October 2020.

Sajbor's sister-in-law and the family's lawyer, Jolanta Budzowska, shared her last words with the European Parliament in Brussels.

She said in phone messages that doctors waited for the inviable foetus's heart to stop before treating her infection symptoms.

"Izabela wrote to her family during her hospitalisation that she felt like she was in an incubator," Budzowska told Euronews.

"I think, and I am sure, that she meant that nobody cared about her life and that the most important thing for everyone, including the doctors in the hospital, was firstly the life of the foetus, and secondly the legal situation of the doctors."

Abortions are still permitted in Poland in instances of risks to the mother's health and life, and in cases of rape or incest.

But terminating a pregnancy due to foetal abnormalities is no longer permitted, with the country's Constitutional Court deeming it a "eugenic practice".

The Chair of the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality in the European Parliament, Robert Biedron, suggested there should be a new legislative tool, after returning from a recent fact-finding mission in his native Poland.

"The backlash in Poland, Hungary and some other countries in the European Union shows clearly that human rights are not for granted, that is why we need to create a catalogue, a systematic approach towards human rights, including women's rights in Europe," the MEP told Euronews.

"The European Charter on Women's Rights would be an ideal tool, including, for example, sexual and reproductive health rights."

Before Poland's new abortion law was passed, there was an average of 1,000 legal abortions per year. It has now fallen to 100, in a country of almost 40 million people.

Activists, nevertheless, estimate that the real number is closer to 150,000, as women either travel abroad or seek clandestine methods to terminate their pregnancies.