WARSAW, Poland -- Prosecutors in southern Poland are probing the death of a 37-year-old woman in a hospital who had been pregnant with twins, a situation in which her family and women's rights groups blame Poland’s strict anti-abortion law, alleging it fatally delayed doctors’ decision to terminate the pregnancy.
Prosecutors in Katowice said Monday they were awaiting the results of three autopsies to determine the cause of the Jan. 25 death of the woman, identified only as Agnieszka T., and the late December deaths of her two fetuses, after which the pregnancy was terminated.
The prosecutors are questioning the woman's husband, her twin sister and the doctors and hospital staff in a probe into potential medical mistakes, a spokesman for the prosecutors, Ireneusz Kunert told The Associated Press.
The woman's family issued a statement saying they suspect sepsis was the cause of the woman's death and allege it was caused by the doctors' decision to continue her pregnancy despite the death of one of the fetuses, and allege the abortion was also delayed after the other fetus' death.
The family, as well as women's rights group, the All-Poland Women's Strike, blame the death on the 2020 strict anti-abortion verdict by a top constitutional court passed under Poland's right-wing government. They say it has a chilling effect on doctors, leading to wrong medical decisions.
“Another victim of the ban on abortion in Poland: 37-year-old Agnieszka of Częstochowa," the women's group said on Facebook. "We keep shouting #NotOneMore, but the ban on abortion is killing more and more women.”
Under the court's verdict, which drew massive protests, it's illegal in Poland to terminate pregnancy with congenital defects, as was previously possible. It means that an abortion is only possible when the pregnancy threatens the woman's health or life, or if it results from crime like rape or incest.
The specialized hospital in Czestochowa says all necessary and available treatment procedures have been applied in efforts to save the three lives and that no other factors influenced its medical decisions.
It said that two days before her death the woman tested positive for COVID-19 and her condition was deteriorating. She was rushed to another hospital but died there several hours later.
The mother of three, in her first trimester of pregnancy, was admitted to the hospital on Dec. 21 with pain and vomiting. Two days later one of the fetuses died, but the pregnancy was continued to save the other fetus, which, however, died Dec. 29. The pregnancy was terminated on Dec. 31 and the woman remained hospitalized, but was later moved to the neurology ward, the hospital said.
An expert in gynecology, Maciej W. Socha, told the OKO.press portal that the pregnancy could not have been terminated sooner and that the doctors' decisions were right.
“This nightmarish verdict of the Constitutional Court had no influence or connection to this particular situation,” Socha said.
But he added that Poland's near-ban on abortion has had a very stressing effect on women.