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Poland: Protests Over Abortion Law After Woman Dies

Activists say she lost her life because of the near-total ban on abortion.

POSTEDBYCHRISTINA SHI

Tens of thousands of people protested in cities across Poland after the death of a pregnant woman in an incident attributed by many to the country’s crackdown on abortions.

The woman, named only as Izabela, 30, suffered septic shock after doctors waited for her 22-week-old foetus, which had had significant defects diagnosed, to die before removing it.

Before she died Izabela sent messages to her mother saying: “My fever is going up” and “They'll wait until it dies or something begins, and if not, I can expect sepsis.”

When a scan showed the fetus was dead, doctors at the hospital in Pszczyna, southern Poland, decided to perform a Caesarean. The family's lawyer, Jolanta Budzowska, said Izabela's heart stopped on the way to the operating theater and she died despite efforts to resuscitate her.

The death of a pregnant Polish woman has reignited debate over abortion in one of Europe's most devoutly Catholic countries, with activists saying she could still be alive if it were not for a near total ban on terminating pregnancies. Under the motto of "Not One More" woman to die, protesters marched to the Health Ministry.

Izabela’s mother has started legal action over the treatment Izabela received, accusing doctors of malpractice, but she also called the death "a consequence of the verdict".

The government says the ruling was not to blame for her death, rather an error by doctors. Budzowska has started legal action over the treatment Izabela received, accusing doctors of malpractice, but she also called the death "a consequence of the verdict".

Unlawful abortion in Poland can carry a sentence of up to eight years in prison. Last year, Poland's Constitutional Tribunal sided with the ruling pro-Catholic populist Law and Justice (PiS) party and ruled that abortions carried out due to irreversible congenital disabilities, including Down syndrome and fetal defects, were illegal under the constitution.

 

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