Pregnant Woman, Fetus Die After Doctors Wouldn't Perform Abortion Under Restrictive Law

A 30-year-old pregnant woman and her fetus died in Poland after doctors were not able to perform an abortion because of a new restriction in the country's law on the procedure, the Associated Press reported.

The woman's case was only made public Friday, though she died in September, and the news triggered some of Poland's people to hold protests and an evening vigil Monday.

The woman, identified only as Izabela, died in her 22nd week of pregnancy from septic shock, AP reported. A lawyer for the woman's family said that even though her fetus was lacking amniotic fluid, doctors did not perform an abortion.

While women in Poland were formerly able to receive abortions in the case of congenital defects, the Constitutional Tribunal ruled last year that administering the procedure in those instances was not constitutional. The only other instances in which women are permitted to receive abortions in Poland are if the pregnancy is caused by a crime like rape, or if a woman's life is in danger, according to AP.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Pregnant Polish Woman Dies
A 30-year-old pregnant woman and her fetus died in Poland after doctors were not able to perform an abortion because of a new restriction in the country’s law. Above, people place candles in tribute to the woman, who died in the 22nd week of pregnancy, in Warsaw, Poland, on November 1, 2021. Czarek Sokolowski/AP Photo

Women's rights activists said doctors in Poland now wait for a fetus with no chance of survival to die in the womb rather than perform an abortion.

The hospital where the woman died issued a statement Tuesday saying they were "joined in pain" with her loved ones and others mourning her, and saying its staff had done everything to save her and the fetus. The family lawyer said she left behind a husband and a daughter.

"The only factor guiding the medical procedure was concern for the health and life of the patient and the fetus. Doctors and midwives did everything in their power, they fought a difficult battle for the patient and her child," said the statement from the County Hospital in Pszczyna in southern Poland.

The hospital added that prosecutors are investigating the case but said "all medical decisions were made taking into account the legal provisions and standards of conduct in force in Poland."

An ultra-conservative organization that lobbied for the abortion restriction, Ordo Iuris, faced accusations of being responsible for the woman's death. The organization's president, Jerzy Kwasniewski, warned that people should not jump to any conclusions about what happened.

Both Kwasniewski and Radoslaw Fogiel, a spokesman for Poland's conservative ruling party, said under the existing law, a woman whose life is at risk has the right to legally terminate her pregnancy.

Fogiel said the ruling Law and Justice party does not plan changes to the abortion law due to the case.

Tribute for Polish Woman
Reproductive rights activists said a woman is the first person to die as a result of a recent restriction of Poland's abortion law. Above, people in Poland hold a sign calling for abortion to be legalized and candles in tribute to a woman who died in the 22nd week of pregnancy, in Warsaw, Poland, on November 1, 2021. Czarek Sokolowski/AP Photo