Abortion: Law & Morality

January 15th, 2013 5:47 pm

Magda Sławinska


Participants: 5-10 people

Materials: sticky notes, pens or pencils, flipchart, copies of the case study for each participant

Duration: 90 minutes

The workshop: Allows participants to explore, question and clarify their perception of abortion. It gives opportunity to discuss the theoretical perspectives and analyze a case study. It is important for participants to feel safe and comfortable engaging in honest exploration of their beliefs and opinions so facilitator needs to create and maintain this environment.

Part one: How we speak about abortion?

  1. Participants are asked to answer following questions and to write each thought on a separate small piece of paper or a sticky note:
  1. Participants are asked to stick their notes under one of two keywords written on a flipchart: “law” and “morality”. The facilitator analyzes the outcomes and leads a discussion around questions:

Part two: Case Study

Participants receive a brief description of a case, a chamber judgment and an opinion of Justice Javier Borrego Borrego

  1. Tysiąc vs. Poland study case

The European Court ruled on the case of Tysiac vs. Poland in 2007. The woman in question was Alicja Tysiac, who argued that continuing with her pregnancy could aggravate her severe case of near-sightedness. Several Polish doctors, including the specialists and her GP, studied Tysiac’s case and they said that it did not meet the criteria for a legal abortion. Although she insisted that she wanted to abort her child, doctors told her that the baby posed no risk to her life. After giving birth to this child, her third, her eyesight subsequently deteriorated.

In 2007, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Poland has no effective legal framework for women to assert their right to abortion on medical grounds and ordered Poland to pay Ms. Tysiac €25,000 in compensation. Ewa Kowaleska of the Forum of Polish Women, a group who supported Ms. Tysiac in her case, said that, “The judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has an ideological basis. It is a form of pressure on Poland to consider abortion as a ‘woman’s right’”.

  1. The Chamber Judgment

The Court held:

Under Article 41 (just satisfaction), the Court awarded the applicant €25,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage and €14,000 for costs and expenses (€2,442.91 received by way of legal aid from the Council of Europe).

  1. Dissenting opinion of Justice Javier Borrego Borrego

“It is true that there was a controversy in this case. On the one hand, we have Polish law, the unanimous opinion of the medical experts and the confirmed lack of a causal link between the delivery and the deterioration of the applicant’s eyesight. On the other hand, we have the applicant’s fears (…). All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Today the Court has decided that a human being was born as a result of a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. According to this reasoning, there is a Polish child, currently six years old, whose right to be born contradicts the Convention.

I would never have thought that the Convention would go so far, and I find it frightening.”

Question to be discussed:


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