Constitutionality of Abortion: Legal Analysis of the Recent Case in Poland

Piotr Szymaniec holds the degree of Habilitated Doctor of Law from the University of Wrocław. He is a professor at the Institute of Socio-Legal Studies at the Angelus Silesius University of Applied Sciences in Wałbrzych (Poland)

The judgement of the Polish Constitutional Tribunal on the controversial issue of limiting the admissibility of abortion was passed on October 22, 2020. It aroused great social emotions. There were stormy demonstrations in major Polish cities, which—despite the restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic—lasted over a week. After the protests, the Polish government decided not to publish the judgment until the majority opinion was prepared. Finally, the majority opinion was made public on January 26, 2021. The next day, the judgment was officially published in the Journal of Laws and thus began to produce legal effects. This time it did not raise major public protests, with the exception of mass protests in Warsaw. In this article, I will indicate what the controversial judgment really contained and show the reasoning of the Constitutional Tribunal. However, I will start with a brief introduction on the history of the legal regulations on abortion in Poland. This issue is very important for understanding the content and context of the judgment.


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‘Because of Sex’: The Coming Battle between the Free Exercise Clause and the Equality Act

Christine M. Venter is a Teaching Professor at Notre Dame Law School and Affiliated Faculty in Gender Studies at the University of Notre Dame

The Equality Act has had a long and arduous history in its quest to become law. The Act was first introduced in 1974 by Congresswoman Bella Abzug, who was determined to end discrimination on account of “sex, marital status, and sexual orientation” in employment, housing, and public accommodations. Although that effort failed, the Act was reintroduced in 2019 and passed the House by a vote of 276 in favor to 173 opposed. Under the leadership of Mitch McConnell, the Senate declined to move it forward for a vote.

Enter the Supreme Court, and Justice Gorsuch’s majority opinion in Bostock v. Clayton County, in June 2020, that Title VII’s prohibition on discrimination “because of … sex,” extended to sexual orientation and gender identity. Although the Court specifically limited its analysis to Title VII, focusing only on the employment discrimination claims based on sexual orientation and gender identity that were before the Court and not on any other area of federal law, both supporters and opponents of equality for the LGBTQ+ community were quick to question the case’s impact.


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COVID and Egalitarian Catholic Women’s Movements

Mary Anne Case is Arnold I. Shure Professor of Law and a board member of the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at the University of Chicago

In his March 27, 2020 extraordinary message Urbi et Orbi, Pope Francis insisted that the time of coronavirus was “not the time of [God’s] judgement, but of our judgement: a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not.” The injunction “to seize this time of trial as a time of choosing” offered by the Pope came at what may have been a providential time for egalitarian Catholic women’s movements.  As the pandemic closed church buildings worldwide, and both the women and the priests went home and on line, the effect was to energize and unite the former while isolating the latter.  As priests celebrated mass alone, women organized worldwide mixed sex, women-centered participatory Zoom liturgies, and worshipped in house churches and in communities of nuns without benefit of clergy. The choices made during the pandemic may have lasting consequences for both the clergy, who may find it increasingly difficult to overcome their isolation and reconnect with their flock, and the women and their supporters, who seem increasingly disinclined to go back rather than forward.


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