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The Commissioner urges President of Poland to veto the amendments to the Medical Professions Act

Statement
Strasbourg 22/07/2020
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The Commissioner urges President of Poland to veto the amendments to the Medical Professions Act

“I regret that the amendments to Poland’s Medical Professions Act adopted on 16 July by the lower house of the Polish parliament, the Sejm, fail to explicitly oblige healthcare providers to refer patients to an alternative and willing provider in the event of the refusal of a medical service on grounds of conscience”, said today the Commissioner.

“The repeated removal by the Sejm of this key provision, which had been put forward by the Polish government and received the support of the Senate, goes against my recommendation to urgently address the shortcomings in Poland’s legal and institutional framework of conscience-based refusals of abortion care, which continue to seriously hamper the practical enjoyment by women and girls in Poland of their sexual and reproductive health and rights. It is also at variance with the recent decision of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, which, in the framework of the supervision of the execution of a judgment of the European Court of Human Rights against Poland, strongly encouraged the adoption of such a provision without further delay.

I urge the President of Poland to veto the amendments adopted by the Sejm and call on the Polish Sejm to review the text in order to bring it in line with the human rights standards of the Council of Europe and Poland’s obligations.”