Perceptions of attending medical staff by women accessing pregnancy termination in Poland: a qualitative study

Kornelia Zareba, Michał Ciebiera, Jacek Gierus, Grzegorz Jakiel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Polish society is strongly influenced by the Catholic Church and Poland has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe. We attempted to gather information by questionnaire from women considering termination of pregnancy (TOP). Women were asked about their perceptions of the attending medical staff and whether they felt they had been fully informed of their rights, as well as about conduct of the procedure itself in light of physicians’ use of the ‘conscience clause’. Methods: Between June 2014 and May 2016 all women deemed eligible for TOP for medical reasons were asked to complete an anonymous questionnaire (n = 240). A total of 150 questionnaires (62.5%) were returned and analysed. Results: Most respondents (95%) lived in a town or city, and a significant number (40%) lived outside the area where the study centre was located. The main reason for such a large group of out-of-region respondents (53%) was the lack of centres offering TOP in the area where the women lived. Only one attending obstetrician did not support a decision to abort the pregnancy. Although 65% of treating physicians supported the woman’s decision, only 8% were willing to perform the procedure themselves. Conclusion: Most regional centres offer no access to TOP, despite the legal right of women to abort their pregnancy in the event of a severe fetal defect. Some physicians refuse to perform abortions, citing conscientious objection. Double standards among treating physicians have been detected, as many support the decision of their patient but refuse to perform the procedure themselves.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)124-129
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 4 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Abortion
  • fetal defects
  • health care
  • health care standard
  • medical personnel
  • moral dilemmas
  • termination of pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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