Protection of Conscience Project
Protection of Conscience Project
Service, not Servitude

Service, not Servitude

Alarmed by freedom of conscience

UN committee  tells Poland to change laws on abortion

Wants reports on conscientious objection

The United Nations Human Rights Committee has told Poland to "liberalize its legislation and practice on abortion," and has also complained about the lack of information available about conscientious objection to abortion by physicians, which, it seems, the Committee finds unacceptable.  The relevant part of the report is reproduced below, with a link to the original text. [Administrator]

Office of the High Commissioner
for Human Rights
Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee
Advance Unedited Version
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Geneva, Switzerland

4 November, 2004

Convention Abbreviation: CCPR
82nd session
Human Rights Committee


1. The Committee considered the fifth periodic report of Poland (CCPR/C/POL/2004/5) at its 2240th and 2241st meetings (CCPR/C/SR.2240 and 2241), held on 27 and 28 October 2004, and adopted the following concluding observations at its 2251st meeting (CCPR/C/SR.2251) on 4 November 2004. . . .

8. The Committee reiterates its deep concern about restrictive abortion laws in Poland, which may incite women to seek unsafe, illegal abortions, with attendant risks to their life and health. It is also concerned at the unavailability of abortion in practice even when the law permits it, for example in cases of pregnancy resulting from rape, and by the lack of information on the use of the conscientious objection clause by medical practitioners who refuse to carry out legal abortions. The Committee further regrets the lack of information on the extent of illegal abortions and their consequences for the women concerned (art. 6).

The State Party should liberalize its legislation and practice on abortion. It should provide further information on the use of the conscientious objection clause by doctors, and, so far as possible, on the number of illegal abortions that take place in Poland. These recommendations should be taken into account when the draft Law on Parental Awareness is discussed in Parliament.

[Original Document]