Two Polish hospitals refused to terminate the pregnancy of an underage rape victim. The case has sparked controversy over the country's restrictive legislation, with women's rights activists insisting it must be eased.
February 5, 2023
A scandal is raging in Polish politics and in the media, concering the shocking case of a 14-year-old rape victim. The girl, who is from the Podlaskie region in northeastern Poland and has mental disabilities, was raped by her own uncle and became pregnant as a result. She was unaware of her condition, but her aunt noticed it and tried to help her get an abortion.
Although the girl had written confirmation from the public prosecutor that she was pregnant as the result of a crime, which gave her the right to a legal abortion, two hospitals in the region refused to carry out the procedure. The province of Podlaskie on the Belarusian border is a bastion of the right-wing conservative Law and Justice Party (PiS), which has been in power in Poland since 2015.
“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 The Associated Press
Sat., Oct. 1, 2022
WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A new regulation that came into force in Poland Saturday requiring pregnancy information to be uploaded to the national digital system has raised concerns among women’s organizations that it could be another means for the conservative government to control women’s lives.
Women’s groups suggest the Health Ministry regulation would enable authorities to monitor pregnancies as another means of control in the country with a very strict anti-abortion law.
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.
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.
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.
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.