Under the new rules, abortion in Poland would be legal in only two scenarios – if the pregnancy threatened the life and health of the mother, or if a woman became pregnant after rape or incest.
PAS will officially step in to implement the decision following the announcement of small-scale protests gathered late on Wednesday, and abortion rights activists will be announced on Thursday.
Abortion has emerged as one of the most divisive issues since the PiS came to power in 2015, promising to mix poor, old and less educated Poles with liberal welfare policies in a traditional society.
The court verdict was published in the official gazette late Wednesday.
“This foolish rule will not prevent abortion,” said 23-year-old student Cesari Jasiski. The Constitutional Tribunal in central Warsaw stands in front of the building.
“But every woman who will experience pain due to this decision, or be forced to give birth to a child with Down’s syndrome, has to blame (the court judges).”
Last year’s protests sparked an outburst of anger against the government, especially among young people, suggesting the PiS may face a new challenge from new voters in the coming years.
On Wednesday, officials said the government would now focus on assisting parents of children with disabilities, although PAS as well as its erstwhile predecessors have been accused by critics of not doing enough in that regard.
“The state can no longer take a life away simply because a person is ill, disabled, in poor health,” said PAS legalist Bartlomiej Wroblowski.
The party denied criticism of the opposition that it influenced the court, called the Constitutional Tribunal. It is one of the judicial bodies that PiS overhauled during the reforms that the European Union said had politicized the courts.
The leader of Poland’s largest opposition party, Civic Platform, Borus Budka, told reporters, “No law-abiding government should respect this decision.”
Even without legislative clauses, access to abortion has declined as more doctors refuse them to perform on religious grounds and many women seek abortions abroad.
In a justification published on Wednesday, the tribunal left open the possibility of Parliament regulating certain circumstances covered by the law.
PAS legalist Marek Suski said the party would consider implementing new rules that could allow the most extreme fetal pathology to be excluded. But political commentators say that it will be difficult to achieve consensus between the PiS and its radical-conservative ruling allies.
“In cases when the fetus does not have a skull or there is no chance of being outside the womb, there should be an option. We will work on it,” Suski told public radio.
Opinion surveys have shown a slight decline in the popularity of PiS in recent months, but an Opinion poll of government-recognized CBOS pollsters showed an increase from 30% in October to 35% this month. PiS and its two smaller parliamentary allies won re-election in 2019 with 44% of the vote.