Case of P and S v. Poland


Case of P and S v. Poland. European Court of Human Rights; 2012.


Facts – The applicants were a daughter and her mother. In 2008, at the age of fourteen, the first applicant, P., became pregnant after being raped. In order to have an abortion in accordance with the 1993 Law on Family Planning, she obtained a certificate from the public prosecutor that her pregnancy had resulted from unlawful sexual intercourse. However, on contacting public hospitals in Lublin, the applicants received contradictory information as to the procedure to be followed. Without asking whether she wished to see him one of the doctors took P. to see a Catholic priest who tried to convince her to carry the pregnancy to term and got her to give him her mobile phone number. The second applicant was asked to sign a consent form warning that the abortion could lead to her daughter’s death. Ultimately, following an argument with the second applicant, the head of gynaecology in the Lublin hospital refused to allow an abortion, citing her personal views, and the hospital issued a press release confirming. Articles were published in local and national newspapers and the case was the subject of discussions on the internet.

P. was subsequently admitted to a hospital in Warsaw, where she was informed that the hospital was facing pressure not to perform the abortion and had received numerous e-mails criticising the applicants for their decision. P. also received unsolicited text messages from the priest and others trying to convince her to change her mind. Feeling manipulated and helpless, the applicants left the hospital two days later. They were harassed by anti-abortion activists and eventually taken to a police station, where they were questioned for several hours. On the same day, the police were informed that the Lublin Family Court had ordered P.’s placement in a juvenile shelter as an interim measure in proceedings issued to divest her mother of her parental rights on the grounds that she was pressurising P. into having the abortion. In making that order the court had regard to text messages P. had sent to her friend saying she did not know what to do. Later that day, the police drove P. to Lublin, where she was placed in a juvenile shelter. Suffering from pain, she was taken to hospital the following day, where she stayed for a week. A number of journalists came to see her and tried to talk to her. After complaining to the Ministry of Health, the applicants were eventually taken in secret to Gdańsk, some 500 kilometres from their home, where the abortion was carried out.

The family court proceedings were discontinued eight months later after P. testified that she had not been forced by her mother to have an abortion. Criminal proceedings that had been brought against P. for suspected sexual intercourse with a minor were also discontinued as was the criminal investigation against the alleged perpetrator of the rape.

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Last updated on 08/17/2015