By Saskya Vandoorne and Melissa Bell, CNN
Wed June 29, 2022
Warsaw, Poland (CNN) Izabela Sajbor knew for weeks that the baby she was carrying was unlikely to live long. On September 22 last year, she realized both their fates were sealed.
"I hope I won't get sepsis because then I won't leave this place," the 30-year-old wrote in a series of distraught text messages to her mother, just 12 hours before she died.
On September 22, 2021, a 30-year-old Polish woman named Izabela died of septic shock at the hospital after her unborn baby’s heart stopped beating. Her death initiated waves of protests across Poland and was seen as the direct consequence of a near total ban on abortion passed in 2020, which outlawed the termination of pregnancies even in the case of fetal defects. Under this new law, unlawful abortion could lead to up to eight years in prison. Terrified of the law and of its potential consequences, Izabela’s doctors waited too long to terminate the pregnancy despite knowing the potential risks for the mother—resulting in her death.
The case of Poland sheds light on a puzzling contemporary phenomenon. The right to abortion has recently been under attack in several countries where it was previously legalized in the late 20th century. In September 2021, the US Supreme Court refused to block legislation in Texas that would ban terminations of pregnancy after six weeks, which is after many women are even aware that they are pregnant. In Turkey, where abortion has been legal since 1983, President Erdogan’s conservative position on abortion is making it increasingly difficult for women to access abortions in public hospitals.
Izabel’s case has intensified demands to loosen Poland’s laws, which are among the most restrictive in Europe.
By Urooba Jamal, Al Jazeera
1 Dec 2021
If Anka Adamczyk were to ever have a child, she would leave Poland to give birth. “It’s … super scary,” the 35-year-old told Al Jazeera by phone from Warsaw. “The consequences are so horrible that I would really not take the risk.”
She is among the women who are now struggling to even consider childbirth because of the country’s strict abortion laws, which have seen doctors refuse to terminate pregnancies even when complications pose a fatal risk.
Human Rights Watch
March 31, 2021
(Berlin) – Bomb and death threats targeting at least seven groups in Poland for supporting women’s rights and the right to abortion are disturbing reminders of escalating risks to women’s human rights defenders in the country, Human Rights Watch, CIVICUS, and International Planned Parenthood Federation-European Network (IPPF-EN) said today.
The authorities should urgently investigate, protect the women targeted and hold those responsible for the threats accountable. Polish officials should also counter abusive misinformation campaigns targeting activists.
The PiS, the Catholic Church, and the Denial of Basic Human Rights
By Enora Lauvau
On Feb 21, 2021
The McGill International Review
Known to be a conservative Roman Catholic nation, Poland has long been home to fierce debate over abortion rights, with the two opposing sides consisting of traditionalists and those advocating a more progressive agenda. Tensions reached an all-time high last October, as the country’s Constitutional Tribunal ruled to further increase the restrictions on legal abortions. Already, Poland had some of the most stringent abortion laws in Europe, with abortion been legal in only three cases: fetal abnormalities, a direct threat to the woman’s health, and rape or incest. In a decision made on October 22, 2020, however, the court declared abortions in the case of congenital defects illegal, on the basis that the Polish Constitution protects human life. Considering that out of the mere 1,100 abortions that legally occurred in Poland last year, 98 per cent of them were for this reason, such a decision essentially ensures that those seeking abortions will either be forced to leave the country or perform them at home, both of which will put their health at risk and leave them vulnerable to legal prosecution. Already, women’s rights groups estimate that between 80,000 to 150,000 citizens get abortions outside of Poland’s health system each year.
Voices from a protest march in Warsaw over Poland's near-total abortion ban
By Kuba Kaminski, Antonia Mortensen and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN Sun January 31, 2021
Warsaw, Poland — The protesters who marched through the Polish capital's icy streets on Friday night had a clear message for the government over its imposition this week of a near-total ban on abortions: We will stand up for women's rights.
It was the third day of protests since the ruling came into effect -- and marked 100 days of protests since Poland's constitutional tribunal court first handed down its controversial ruling, sparking weeks of mass demonstrations.
Dec 19, 2020
By Malcolm Brabant, Ivette Feliciano
Video – 9:21 minutes
A major battle is underway over abortion rights in Poland. The country’s constitutional court, whose legitimacy has been questioned by some, has made it even harder for Polish women to get abortions. The move has been condemned by the European Parliament and human rights groups like Amnesty International. Special Correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports from the capital Warsaw.
Read the Full Transcript
Four years ago, Polish women went on strike over an abortion ban. Now, a younger, fiery generation has joined them.
Magdalena Muszel, Grzegorz Piotrowski
11 December 2020
The protests in Poland over the government’s plans to further tighten abortion restrictions began in October – they haven’t stopped since. Now, some are calling it the “cardboard revolution” in reference to the handmade placards that have become a distinctive feature of the protests. But what’s novel about the movement isn’t the ubiquitous signage – it’s the young age of its participants.
When looking through the crowds at the protests, it quickly becomes clear that most participants appear to be in their early twenties. That might explain the radicalism of the movement’s chants and slogans, but also it’s creativity and spontaneity.
BY MIRANDA JIANG
Dec 5, 2020
More than 200 people met at San Francisco’s Rincon Park on Nov. 1 to show support for the protests in Poland against the government’s latest abortion restrictions. Right next to the Embarcadero waterfront, face-masked adults and children carried signs emblazoned with red bolts of lightning, the symbol of Poland’s Women’s Strike. On the signs were slogans, most in Polish and some in English, including “San Fran stands with the women of Poland” and “Abort the Patriarchy.”
“This is a peaceful show of support for our country,” said Magdalena Myszka, a Bay Area resident born and raised in Poland. Myszka organized this protest by posting an event on Facebook. The protesters chanted slogans used in the Polish protests, some of which translate to “I think, I feel, I decide” and “This is war.”
Malgorzata Tomczak, Warsaw
November 30, 2020
In the past, the problems of the country’s constitutional court were seen as complex and detached from people’s daily lives. Until now that is, when they started to impact on the most private and sensitive areas of Polish women’s lives.
With its recent legal attempt to put further limits on abortion, the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) has created a constitutional crisis that will be hard to resolve. And its reckless actions are already impacting on Polish women’s lives.