Evolution of the Abortion Law and its Practice in Poland Against the Background of the Current Legal Framework in New Zealand

Author: Eska-Mikołajewska, J
Published in National Security Journal, 05 April 2021


1 Paweł Kuczma, “Legal protection of life” in Implementation and protection of constitutional freedoms and rights of an individual in the Polish legal order. Mariusz Jabłoński, ed. (Wrocław: Faculty of Law, Administration and Economics of the University of Wrocław, 2014), pp. 37 –38.

2 The UN Human Rights Council Working group claims that unsafe abortions cause the deaths of around 47,000 women each year, whereas five million can suffer some form of temporary or permanent disability. See “Access to legal abortion services needed, to prevent 47,000 women dying each year – UN rights experts,” 28 September 2018, UN News. Available at https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/09/1021332

3 Currently 25 million are unsafe abortions, among them 8 million were carried out in the least- safe or even dangerous conditions. It is worth adding that unsafe abortions lead to about further 7 million complications, entailing social and financial costs to women, their families, communities and health systems. See “Preventing unsafe abortion,” Evidence brief, 2019. Available at https://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/preventing-unsafe-abortion-evidence-brief/en/

4 “Abortion regulations in the world: in Poland, the law is stricter than in Iran or Pakistan,” 27 January 2021, National Geographic Poland. Available at https://www.national-geographic.pl/artykul/przepisyaborcyjne-na-swiecie-w-polsce-prawo-surowsze-niz-w-iranie-czy-pakistanie?page=2

5 M. Berer, “Abortion Law and Policy Around the World: In Search of Decriminalization,” Health and Human Rights Journal, 19 (1) (June 2017), pp. 15 – 16.

6 Wanda Nowicka, Joanna Regulska, “Repressive Policies and Women’s Reproductive Choices in Poland: The Case of State Violence Against Women” in Women’s Journey to empowerement in the 21st Century: A Transnational Feminist Analysis of Women’s Lives in Modern Times. Kristen Zaleski, Annalisa Enrile, Eugenia L. Weiss & Xiying Wang, eds. (Oxford Scholarship Online, October 2019, pp. 234– 235.

7 Section 233 of the 1932 Penal Code, Journal of Laws 1932 No. 60, item 571.
8 Section 12 (1) of the Ordinance of the President of the Republic of Poland of 25 September 1932, Journal of Laws 1932 No. 81, item. 712.

9 German occupation authorities legalised abortion in Poland on the basis of the ordinance of March 9, 1943. See “On March 9, 1943, Hitler introduces abortion in Poland,” 9 March 2016, Interia Nowa Historia. Available at https://nowahistoria.interia.pl/kartka-z-kalendarza/news-9-marca-1943-r-hitlerwprowadza-aborcje-na-terenach-polski,nId,2159191

10 T. Chelouche, “Doctors, Pregnancy, Childbirth and Abortion during the Third Reich,“ Israel Medical Association Journal, 9, March 2007, pp. 202 – 203.

11 Section 66 (2) of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Poland adopted by the Legislative Sejm on July 22, 1952, Journal of Laws 1952 No. 33, item 232.

12 Section 2 of the Instruction of the Minister of health of 27 July 1954 on the necessity to perform an abortion due to the health of a pregnant woman, Polish Monitor 1954 No. 75, item 906.

13 Section 1 (1) of the Act of 27 April 1956, Journal of Laws 1956 No. 12, item 61.

14 These provisions were deleted on January 1, 1970 with the entry into force for the new Penal Code. See the Act of 19 April 1969 Penal Code, Journal of Laws 1969 No. 13, item 94.

15 Section 1 (3) of the Regulation of the Minister of Health of 11 May 1956 on termination or pregnancy, Journal of Laws 1956 No.13, item 68.

16 It is estimated that about 300,000 “underground” abortions took place in the first half of the 1950s. With the entry into force of the 1956 Act, the number of medical abortions increased significantly, reaching its peak in 1961. From around the mid-1960s, the number of abortions performed in Poland began to gradually decline. From the beginning of the 1970s, the average number of abortions was in the range of 300,000-500,000 per year. See A. Ignaciuk, “This harmful procedure.” Discourses on abortion in the publications of the Society for Conscious Motherhood / Family Planning Society (1956–1980),” Journals of Wrocław Ethnology, 1 (20) (2014), pp. 81– 83.

17 Section 3 (1) of the Regulation of the Minister of Health of 19 December 1959 on termination of pregnancy, Journal of Laws 1960 No. 2, item 15.