Death of woman sparks debate on Poland abortion ban

Poland's near total ban on abortions may have led to the death of a 30-year-old pregnant woman.

That's what some activists are arguing... after a Constitutional Tribunal ruling from October 2020 said terminating pregnancies with fetal defects was unconstitutional.

Izabela - a woman in her 22nd week of pregnancy - died of septic shock after doctors waited for her unborn baby's heart to stop beating, according to activists, who say she's the first woman to die as a result of the abortion ruling.

Izabela’s mother, Barbara, spoke to private broadcaster TVN24… and read text messages her daughter sent from the hospital in September:

BARBARA: "They'll wait until it dies or something begins, and if not, great news, I can expect sepsis."

REPORTER: "So she felt she already knew something was wrong and she was told what?"

BARBARA: "That they would wait until the baby dies as they had no other choice."

"Then she texted: 'I’m going to sleep, cheers, mom.' It was 11:02 p.m."

REPORTER: "Was it her last message?"

BARBARA: "Yes, it was."

The government says Izabela's death was caused by an error by doctors, not the abortion law.

On Friday, the hospital said it had suspended two doctors who were on duty at the time of the death.

But the lawyer for Izabela’s family is calling for a more significant change – a change to the Polish legislation.

Thousands of people gathered in cities across Poland Saturday to protest the abortion laws in one of Europe’s most devoutly Catholic countries.

Poland's president proposed changing the law last year to make abortions possible in cases where the fetus was not viable.

But Poland's ruling Law and Justice party has yet to debate the bill.

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