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Top court in Poland strikes down law allowing abortions for birth defects

Top court in Poland strikes down law allowing abortions for birth defects
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Poland's top court ruled Thursday that a law permitting abortion of fetuses with congenital disabilities is unconstitutional.

The country's Constitutional Court ruled the ban will be effective immediately, outlawing abortions in cases where congenital disabilities are discovered and further limiting abortion access, The Associated Press reported.

Poland, a predominantly Catholic country, already maintains one of the strictest abortion laws in Europe.

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The ruling was in response to motions from right-wing lawmakers who argued terminating a pregnancy when congenital disabilities are detected in the fetus was in violation of the Polish Constitution protecting every individual's life.

Julia Przylebska, the court’s president and a supporter of the right-wing government, first announced the verdict Thursday, The Washington Post reported.

The law being challenged was first introduced in 1993 and allowed for abortions when a woman's life or health was endangered or if they are a victim of rape or another illegal act.

Two judges on the 13-member court did not support the majority ruling.

Before the ruling, abortion rights groups demonstrated in protests and human rights organizations argued against further restricting abortion rights.

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović posted on social media the ruling Thursday was a "sad day for women’s rights."

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“Removing the basis for almost all legal abortions in #Poland amounts to a ban & violates #HumanRights,” she penned on Twitter. “Today’s ruling of the Constitutional Court means underground/abroad abortions for those who can afford & even greater ordeal for all others. A sad day for #WomensRights.”

Some Polish lawmakers considered a bill earlier this year to implement nearly a full ban on abortions. However, it postponed a final vote on the proposal brought by a Catholic group, the Post reported.