A disabled 14-year-old who was raped by her own uncle has been refused an abortion in Poland, sparking outrage in the conservative country.
Two separate hospitals in her region of Podlasie have reportedly refused to treat her or even tell her where she could receive a legal abortion, a violation of their law.
The Catholic nation has some of the strictest laws on abortion in Europe, and doctors can even refuse to provide them on ethical grounds. Termination is only legal when the pregnancy is the result of a criminal act such as rape or incest, or when the woman’s health is at risk.
The girl, who did not understand she was pregnant, was taken by her aunt to doctors who treated them ‘brutally and inhumanely’, she claimed.
The aunt had even provided documents from a prosecutor saying an alleged rape had occurred and an abortion would be lawful, but doctors still turned them away.
They were allegedly told: ‘Not here, go away. We don’t know where. It’s none of our concern.’
The aunt contacted reproductive organisation Federa who helped take the young girl to Warsaw where an abortion was performed safely and successfully.
But the initial refusal of the local doctors has provoked outrage in the devoutly Christian nation where 92 per cent of its population are Catholic.
Federa said in a statement: ‘Warsaw doctors couldn’t understand the conduct of the doctors from Podlasie. No empathy is an understatement.
‘We have no words of indignation at such treatment.’
A health ministry spokesman has confirmed that local hospitals failed to comply with the law and a probe has been launched.
Wojciech Andrusiewicz told TVN: ‘Such an abortion should either be carried out or they should indicate a place where such an abortion can be carried out, so the hospital acted against the statuary provisions.’
Dr Artur Plachta, gynecologist and member of the Supreme Medical Chamber, told Fakty: ‘I am ashamed of them because they did not help the child.
‘This child suffered two dramas: she was raped by someone, even the closest person, and now she received a third “gift” from her medical colleagues: she was not helped.’
The commissioner for patients’ rights also said that while individual doctors can invoke the ‘conscience clause’ and refuse to perform an abortion, an entire hospital cannot.
Conservative values have played a growing role in public life in Poland since the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party came into power in 2015 on a promise to defend what it sees as the nation’s traditional, Catholic character.
Opposition politicians are now calling for reform over the abortion laws which were strengthened in 2020, to much protest.