Number of legal abortions in Poland drops by 90 per cent


Central Europe


A demonstrator holds up a cloth hanger as others light flares during a pro-choice demonstration. It is assumed that the number of illegal abortions has risen in Poland. Photo AFP, Wojtek Radwanski

Poland counted 107 legal abortions in 2021. That is ten times less than in previous years. Most likely, this is due to the near-total ban on abortions, a ruling from the Constitutional Tribunal.

Out of 107 legal procedures in 2021, 75 were performed when prenatal tests or other medical conditions indicated a high probability of severe and irreversible foetal impairment or an incurable life-threatening disease. Another 32 cases took place because the pregnancy posed a threat to the woman's life or health. The Polish abortion law still allows abortion when the pregnancy results from a prohibited act, such as rape, but such situations did not occur in 2021, according to the statistics. This reports the Polish daily Rzeczpospolita.

The decrease in abortions compared to earlier years is almost tenfold. In 2018, there were 1076 legal procedures, in 2019 - 1110, and in 2020 - again 1076.


During most of the 1980s, there were over 100,000 abortions in Poland. The numbers declined towards the end of the decade. When the Polish parliament passed a law on family planning in 1993, the number of abortions dropped dramatically. In 1993, there were around 1200 abortions.

The disclosure of the data by Rzeczpospolita resulted in predictable reactions from of both sides of the conflict over abortion. Pro-life activist Kaja Godek from the Życie i Rodzina Foundation wrote about "a thousand rescued children".

Pro-choice communities focus on the situation of women. Left MP Wanda Nowicka claims that it has become "dramatic". “As a result of the judgment of the Constitutional Tribunal, Polish women are exposed to inhumane treatment, loss of life and health”, she says in an interview with Rzeczpospolita, recalling the cases of Agnieszka from Częstochowa and Izabela from Pszczyna, who died - as it was speculated - due to excessively restrictive abortion law.

Pro-life activist Mariusz Dzierżawski fears that the number of abortions might increase in the coming years. In his opinion, doctors are beginning to treat the premise of a threat to a woman's health broadly, taking into account mental health.


However, the declining abortion numbers do not show the full scale of abortions in Poland. According to Rzeczpospolita, there are various estimates from several dozen illegal abortions to 200 thousand cases a year.

According to MP Wanda Nowicka, it is most often done at home with the use of pills. “However, they can only be used up to the 12th week of pregnancy. In the case of older pregnancies with complications, women have to go abroad”, she says.

And it is precisely the limitation of illegal abortion that is currently the target of pro-life communities that have been successful in contributing to the judgment of the Constitutional Tribunal of 2020. Mariusz Dzierżawski does not hide that his foundation informed the prosecutor's office on websites facilitating the ordering of pharmaceuticals for abortion. “The biggest problem is illegal abortions with the use of abortion pills. In this way, tens of thousands of Polish children are killed each year, and the authorities are passive towards traffickers in death pills”, he claims.



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