Notes from Poland
DEC 28, 2022
A foundation run by Poland’s most prominent anti-abortion activist, Kaja Godek, has submitted a citizen’s initiative to the parliament that would further tighten one of the already strictest abortion laws in Europe.
The draft legislation, entitled “Abortion is murder”, would introduce a ban on “public advocacy” as well as “information” on the possibility of terminating a pregnancy. It would also see recognition of “inciting to abortion” as a crime carrying up to eight years in jail.
“For the for the majority of women, it’s not accessible,” the executive director of Poland’s Federation for Women and Family Planning told NBC News.
Dec. 22, 2022
By Matt Bradley, Ewa Galica and Mo Abbas
WARSAW, Poland — Standing in a near-empty rural cemetery, Barbara Skrobol braced against the cold and a potential confrontation: The local priest, she said, doesn’t like the journalists and activists she regularly parades past her sister-in-law’s grave.
“She just wanted to live,” Skrobol said of her brother’s wife, Izabela Sajbor, who died last year from sepsis at the age of 30. An abortion could have saved her life, she said. “We blame not only the doctors because they made a mistake, but we blame the politicians who implemented this law.”
Period tracking apps, car licence plate data and pregnancy registers are the latest tools experts warn are being harnessed to monitor women
By Harriet Barber, GLOBAL HEALTH REPORTER
7 October 2022
Surveillance data and technology are being exploited to stoke fear and prevent abortions in countries including the United States, China, Hungary and Poland.
Period tracking apps, car licence plate data and pregnancy registers are the latest tools activists warn are being harnessed to stop women using legal or geographic loopholes for terminations. All four countries have reversed abortion rights over the past two years.
By Deborah Amos, NPR
Published June 23, 2022
LISTEN • 6:58 (with transcript)
LEILA FADEL, HOST:
In 1973, the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion across the United States. Now, nearly 50 years later, it could overturn that decision this month. Abortion activists are concerned about what that means going forward. But could other countries already be providing a snapshot? NPR's Deb Amos reports from Warsaw, Poland, which has the toughest restrictions on abortion in Europe. And a quick warning, there is a brief discussion of rape in this story.
(SOUNDBITE OF PHONE RINGING)
ANTONINA LEWANDOWSKA: Oh, sorry. That's probably an abortion intervention.
BY AMIE FERRIS-ROTMAN
JUNE 21, 2022
In the early days of May, in the third month of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a mother in her early 40s crossed the border into Poland, seeking safety for herself and two teenage children. She also carried with her a secret: as Russians advanced on her hometown, she was raped by Russian soldiers.
She didn’t want anyone to know what happened, according to the Polish NGO that came to her aid. Her husband, who is in the Ukrainian army, was fighting and away from home. Once in Poland, the woman discovered she was pregnant. But getting an abortion in a country with a near-total ban, and navigating this terrain in a new language, was far from simple.
Katrin Bennhold, Monika Pronczuk
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.
JUN 13, 2022
by Anna Gmiterek-Zabłocka, Radio TOK FM
The days of illegal – and often unsafe – abortions in backstreet clinics are long gone. Instead, a host of NGOs and activists help women obtain self-administered abortion pills, noting that the recent near-total abortion ban has increased awareness and interest in such service. That has led to a backlash from conservative groups, who are calling for the law to be toughened to prevent and more severely punish the distribution of such pills.
It is not difficult to find adverts online for gynaecologists who offer “discreet”, “safe” services “without problems”. Probably for legal reasons, the word “abortion” does not appear. We called one of the numbers.
By Costanza Spocci
26 May 2022
Warsaw, Poland – On a cold, hazy December morning, the Ryz sisters stand on a sidewalk of a busy street in Warsaw.
“Shall we go to church?” 24-year-old Olympia asks her sister, Melania, grinning and holding up a dozen pink, yellow and grey stickers with the words, “Abortion is OK”, and the hotline numbers and social media profiles of Polish pro-choice organisations.
May 17, 2022
PATRICK ADAMS, NPR
Ukrainian women who were raped by Russian soldiers are among the millions of refugees who have fled to Poland.
And they now find themselves in a country that severely restricts access to reproductive health care, including both contraception and abortion.
As sexual violence on children and young women is increasingly reported, pregnant women, including rape survivors, struggle to access sexual healthcare under Poland’s strict abortion laws
by Mathilde Grandjean
April 20, 2022
Since the start of the war, over 4.6 million Ukrainian refugees – 90% of whom are women and children – have fled their homes to seek sanctuary in neighbouring countries. Poland has received the highest number of displaced Ukrainians, as nearly 3 million refugees have entered the country since February. Amongst them are rape survivors and pregnant refugees in urgent need of medical help, including access to emergency contraception and abortion.
However, Poland’s near-total ban on abortion added to a lack of key sexual and reproductive health medicines and products obstruct humanitarian efforts to provide medical assistance to rape survivors and refugees who wish to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.