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Poland set to scrap plans to ban abortion after outcry

A pro-choice protester at a rally against the draft abortion law Credit: Reuters

Poland's government has indicated that it will scrap a highly controversial draft law that would have banned all abortions after an international outcry.

Tens of thousands had rallied against the proposed law which would make the procedure illegal even in cases where the fetus was not expected to survive or the mother's life was in danger.

Science and higher education minister Jaroslaw Gowin said the demonstrations had "caused us to think and taught us humility" in an apparent indication that the government was pulling back from a total ban.

Poland already has tight restrictions on abortion, which is only allowed in cases of rape, incest, badly damaged fetuses or if the mother's life is at risk.

It also allows doctors to refuse to carry out abortions if they have moral objections.

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High court overturns midwife abortion ruling

The UK's highest court has overturned a ruling made in favour of two Catholic midwives who object to any involvement in abortion procedures.

Five justices at the Supreme Court in London allowed an appeal by a health authority in Scotland against a decision of the Court of Session in Edinburgh last year in the case of Mary Doogan and Connie Wood.

As conscientious objectors, the senior midwifery sisters have had no direct role in pregnancy terminations, but they claim they should also be entitled to refuse to delegate, supervise and support staff involved in the procedures or providing care to patients during the process.

They said being called upon to supervise and support staff providing care to women having an abortion would amount to "participation in treatment" and would breach their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights.

The "landmark" ruling was welcomed by the RCM and bpas, who said they intervened in the case because they believed "such a broad and unprecedented interpretation of conscientious objection, applicable across the UK, would effectively have enabled a tiny number of staff opposed to abortion to make women's care undeliverable in many NHS settings".

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