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Abortion and women’s mental health. There is the position of the Ombudsman for Patients’ Rights

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The Ombudsman for Patients’ Rights announces his position and for many women it may be crucial. Denying legal abortion due to mental health risks is a violation of patient rights. In this case, it’s about a specific case, but in other cases, in public hospitals, it can also change a lot.

The Ombudsman for Patients’ Rights stated that the refusal of legal abortion is a violation of the right to health services. – In the opinion of the Ombudsman for Patients’ Rights, the threat to the mental health of a pregnant woman may be a reason for a legal termination of pregnancy – said Paweł Grzesiewski from the Office of the Ombudsman for Patients’ Rights. This is an important decision for every woman. – In such difficult times, we have to manage somehow and use the remnants of the law that we have left – says Kamila Ferenc, a lawyer from the Foundation for Women and Family Planning.

Two years ago, a young pregnant woman came to the University Clinical Hospital in Bialystok. The fetus was skullless and she had certificates from psychiatrists that this pregnancy put her mental state at risk for her health. The patient was in a very bad mental state. She repeated that she was not able to bear this pregnancy for the next 6 months, just waiting for death just before or just after giving birth – says Kamila Ferenc. A threat to a woman’s health is still a prerequisite for legal termination of pregnancy in Poland. However, the hospital refused the procedure, citing the opinion of the ultra-Catholic organization Ordo Iuris that depression does not threaten the woman’s life.

– The despair of women affected by this type of tragedy, for me, a psychiatrist, is absolutely incomparable to any other condition that I know in other patients – assures Maja Herman, psychiatrist, president of the Medical Media Society.

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“This is a major systemic change”

In his explanatory proceedings, the Ombudsman for Patients’ Rights clearly stated that the health of a pregnant woman is also her mental health. – This is a big system change, because with this decision, now every patient can go to the hospital and her position in relation to the hospital authorities is simply stronger – adds Kamila Ferenc.

It is the opinion of the Ombudsman for Patients’ Rights, and not the opinions of ultra-conservative lawyers, that doctors should now rely on. – (This decision – editor’s note) for psychiatrists may be such a signal that it is important and that it should be done so that the patient has access to termination of pregnancy – says Aleksandra Krasowska, a psychiatrist.

Whoever thinks that this solves all problems is wrong. – Our position does not determine that in every case of a threat to mental health, such a procedure should be performed, but the woman should not be sent away, but should be provided with an assessment of her health – Paweł Grzesiewski clarifies.

Why should health already assessed by psychiatrists be re-evaluated in the hospital? Activists don’t understand that. – Why does this require further analysis, why are we choosing a wait-and-see attitude again and will it not end with more drama? asks Natalia Broniarczyk from the organization Aborcyjny Dream Team.

The Ombudsman for Patients’ Rights called on the Bialystok hospital to take corrective action. The hospital assures that it has developed procedures for termination of pregnancy.

Main photo source: TVN24

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