Abortion without Borders: How Feminists and Anarchists Defy Polish Anti-Abortion Laws

2022-11-14

In Poland, abortion has been almost completely prohibited since 2020. Nevertheless, a network of anarchists and other feminists strives to ensure that those who need abortions can access them, legally or not. Now that abortion has been prohibited throughout many of the United States, as well, people in North America stand to gain from the experience of those who have already been confronting this situation for years. To learn how Polish activists use direct action and mutual aid to keep abortion accessible, we interviewed participants in this network.

Maintaining widespread access to abortion—legal or not—is crucial to saving lives and preserving the autonomy of those targeted by patriarchal power structures. It is also an essential part of the struggle to legalize abortion. As we argued in June, after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade,

Continued: https://crimethinc.com/2022/11/14/abortion-without-borders-how-feminists-and-anarchists-defy-polish-anti-abortion-laws-1


After Roe, abortion’s underground railroad gains steam

A network of activists is helping women terminate pregnancies in countries where the procedure is banned.

BY CARLO MARTUSCELLI, EMILY SCHULTHEIS, MANDOLINE RUTKOWSKI AND JAKUB KORUS
OCTOBER 29, 2022

RIGA — If you want to get an abortion in Poland, Kinga Jelinska is happy to help. Legally terminating your pregnancy is almost impossible in the Eastern European country. Abortion is only allowed in the case of rape or incest, or when it threatens the life of the woman.

That’s where Jelinska comes in. She’s the co-founder and executive director of Women Help Women, an Amsterdam-based nonprofit that helps provide women with the pills needed for an at-home medical abortion. The service Jelinska’s group provides falls into a legal grey zone; self-induced abortion is illegal in a number of countries, but in Poland, it’s not explicitly banned. 

Continued: https://www.politico.eu/article/roe-v-wade-europe-abortion-pill-illegal-underground-network/


Abortion Without Borders helps almost 80,000 people access abortions in place of the Polish state

Thursday, October 20, 2022
Abortion Without Borders / Women Help Women

Two years on from Poland’s decision to effectively ban abortion, members of Abortion Without Borders have supported 78,000 people from Poland to access abortions safely.

In the last year, AWB has helped 44,000 people, with more than 1,200 able to terminate their pregnancies in the second trimester in clinics in other European countries.

Continued: https://womenhelp.org/en/page/1498/abortion-without-borders-helps-almost-80-000-people-access-abortions


Poland’s ban on abortion forces many to seek help in Germany

A Berlin-based activist group seeks to aid the rising number of women seeking help with abortion in Poland.

By Gouri Sharma
Published On 8 Aug 2022

For Zuzu*, an activist with the Berlin-based group Ciocia Basia that assists people seeking an abortion in neighbouring Poland, fielding calls is just one of many responsibilities she carries out.

Following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Zuzu and other activists working with partner organisation Abortion Without Borders (AWB) told Al Jazeera that the number of calls they are receiving has increased.

Continued: https://www.aljazeera.com/features/2022/8/8/polands-ban-on-abortion-forces-many-to-seek-help-in-germany


Poland shows the risks for women when abortion is banned

Katrin Bennhold, Monika Pronczuk
14.06.2022

It was shortly before 11 p.m. when Izabela Sajbor realized the doctors were prepared to let her die. Her doctor had already told her that her fetus had severe abnormalities and would almost certainly die in the womb. If it made it to term, life expectancy was a year, at most. At 22 weeks pregnant, Sajbor had been admitted to a hospital after her water broke prematurely.

She knew that there was a short window to induce birth or surgically remove the fetus to avert infection and potentially fatal sepsis. But even as she developed a fever, vomited and convulsed on the floor, it seemed to be the baby’s heartbeat that the doctors were most concerned about.

Continued: https://www.ekathimerini.com/nytimes/1186635/poland-shows-the-risks-for-women-when-abortion-is-banned/


What Could A Post-Roe Future Look Like? Poland Offers A Glimpse

May 24, 2022
15-Minute Podcast, NPR (transcript available)

Dozens of states could soon take steps to ban or restrict abortion. But there are a lot of unanswered questions about how those laws would be enforced if they vary from state to state, Kim Mutcherson tells NPR. That patchwork of laws is the most likely outcome if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v Wade, leaving the U.S. without a federally-protected right to abortion.

That's the reality in Poland, where abortion is almost entirely illegal. NPR's Ari Shapiro reports on an underground network of reproductive rights activists who risk prison time to help abortion patients.

Continued: https://www.npr.org/2022/05/18/1099826970/what-could-a-post-roe-future-look-like-poland-offers-a-glimpse


Millions of Ukrainians are arriving to a battle over abortion rights in Poland

May 20, 2022
Ari Shapiro, Elena Burnett, Courtney Dorning|
11-minute podcast with transcript

Ukraine has very liberal abortion laws. In Poland, it is almost entirely illegal. Millions of Ukrainians discovered this when they fled the war in their home country and crossed the Polish border.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Imagine stepping across a border and discovering that reproductive rights you once took for granted are now a crime. For millions of Ukrainians, that discovery happened when they fled the war in their home country and set foot here in Poland. Ukraine has very liberal abortion laws. In Poland, it's almost entirely illegal. But while Poland's anti-abortion effort has the weight of the government behind it, there is another movement, one that's secretive, underground and punishable with prison time. You see it right here on the border if you know where to look.

Continued:  https://www.npr.org/2022/05/20/1100476995/millions-of-ukrainians-are-arriving-to-a-battle-over-abortion-rights-in-poland


What the U.S. Could Learn from Abortion Without Borders

A coalition across Europe is resisting Poland’s abortion ban. Its strategy could foreshadow activism in a post-Roe America.

Anna Louie Sussman, The New Yorker
May 17, 2022

Last month, an abortion-rights activist named Justyna Wydrzyńska stood in a courtroom in Warsaw, Poland, and described her abortion. Her lips were painted a defiant red; her voice cracked at times, but she was unapologetic. When she was thirty-three, she said, she was in an abusive marriage and learned that she was pregnant. She struggled to find accurate information online and had to order three packs of abortion pills—the first two, from the black market, were duds. She was terrified that she would bleed out or fall unconscious in front of her three children, who were too young to call an ambulance. Wydrzyńska, who is forty-seven, is now part of a coalition of activists called Abortion Without Borders. She was on trial for helping another Polish woman get an abortion.

Abortion was legal when Poland was under Communist control, but, in 1993, the predominantly Catholic country outlawed most abortions, except in cases of rape, incest, severe fetal conditions, and risk to the life of the patient. As the U.S. Supreme Court considers Roe v. Wade and giving states the ability to ban abortion, the diverse, international coalition of Abortion Without Borders may model an effective approach to abortion-rights activism in a post-Roe America—and also its risks.

Continued: https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/what-the-us-could-learn-from-abortion-without-borders


Abortion Without Borders has helped almost 32,000 people from Poland

Abortion Without Borders (Aborcja Bez Granic)
has helped almost 32,000 people from Poland to access abortions in its second
year of existence.

Published on December 11, 2021

Abortion Without Borders is a grassroots feminist network that was launched on
11 December 2019 to help anyone in Poland access a safe abortion in Poland or
abroad. In the face of fresh attempts by Poland to criminalise women for having
abortions, Abortion Without Borders continues to help people who need support,
including 1,186 who were forced to travel to a clinic or hospital in another
country. 

At least two women died this year after being denied an abortion for a
pregnancy that was threatening their lives. Poland criminalised almost all
abortions in a constitutional tribunal ruling in October 2020, and the last few
weeks have seen attempts by the Polish government to criminalise what little
abortion access remains in the country.

Continued: https://womenhelp.org/pl/page/1383/abortion-without-borders-helps-almost-32-000-polish-people-in-second


Abortion Without Borders helps more than 34,000 people in Poland access abortions

Published on October 21, 2021

A year ago – on 22 October 2020 – a Polish Constitutional Court decided
that the provision of abortion in case of foetal malformation was
unconstitutional. While the decision didn’t come into force until 27 January
2021, the change happened immediately. The next day, despite the still-valid
provision of abortion under Poland’s abortion act, the first four people
refused abortion in Polish hospitals called Abortion Without Borders for help.

Over the past 12 months Abortion Without Borders groups have helped 34,000
people from Poland to access abortion. 1080 people were able to terminate their
pregnancy in a foreign clinic in the second trimester. Financial support given
was more than 700,000 zloty/ £129,000/ €153,000.

Continued: https://www.asn.org.uk/abortion-without-borders-helps-more-than-34000-people-in-poland-access-abortions/