The family of a Polish woman who died due to Poland’s restrictive abortion rules have spoken of their ordeal.
Izabela Sajbor, 30, died of septic shock last year when she was 22 weeks pregnant.
Thousands of people took to the streets to protest the victim of the country’s near-total abortion ban, which was approved in October 2020.
Sajbor’s sister-in-law and family lawyer Jolanta Budzowska shared her final words with the European Parliament in Brussels.
She said in phone messages that doctors were waiting for the inviable fetus’ heart to stop before treating her symptoms of infection.
“Izabela wrote to her family during her hospitalization that she felt like she was in an incubator,” Budzowska told Euronews.
“I think, and I’m sure, that she meant that no one cared about her life and that the most important thing for everyone, including the doctors at the hospital, was the life of the first foetus, and secondly the legal position of doctors.
Abortions are still allowed in Poland in case of risk to the health and life of the mother, and in case of rape or incest.
But terminating a pregnancy due to fetal abnormalities is no longer allowed, with the country’s Constitutional Court deeming it a “eugenics practice”.
The chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, Robert Biedron, has suggested there should be a new legislative tool, after returning from a recent fact-finding mission to his native Poland.
“The backlash in Poland, Hungary and some other countries in the European Union clearly shows that human rights are not a given, which is why we need to create a catalogue, a systematic approach to human rights rights, including women’s rights in Europe,” the MEP told Euronews.
“The European Charter of Women’s Rights would be an ideal tool, including, for example, sexual and reproductive health rights.”
Before the adoption of the new Polish abortion law, there were an average of 1,000 legal abortions per year. It has now fallen to 100, in a country of nearly 40 million people.
Activists, however, estimate the actual number to be closer to 150,000, as women travel abroad or seek clandestine methods to terminate their pregnancies.