Europe’s growing abortion nightmare

Even in the absence of a ban, for women in need of abortion access, the overall picture is grim — and the worst is yet to come.

JULY 1, 2023
Reporting for this article was carried out by Akmaljon Akhmedjonov, Bernadeta Barokova, Yijing Chen, Pius Fozan, Timotheus Paul Goldinger, Kristina Kovalska, Leila Lawrence, Hanna Perenyi, Carina Samhaber, Stephanie Songer, Marziyeh Taeb, Tripti and Joseph Scioli, masters and PhD students at the Central European University in Vienna, under the editorship of Professor Marius Dragomir.

When she was 19 years old, Anna Peer had an abortion after her intrauterine device malfunctioned. “I didn’t realize at the time how lucky and privileged I was,” said Peer, now 24. “My gynecologist basically carried me through everything.”

But through her work for the Austrian Family Planning Association (ÖGF), an NGO that provides counseling related to reproductive health, Peer now sees “what the system’s actually like.”


Will Poland have a referendum on its abortion law, and what might the outcome be?

APR 3, 2023
By Daniel Tilles

Why is this an issue?

Since January 2021, Poland has had a near-total ban on abortion following an October 2020 ruling by the Constitutional Tribunal (TK) that outlawed the most common form of legal abortion.

Previously, Poland had already had one of Europe’s strictest abortion laws, with terminations allowed in only three circumstances: if the pregnancy threatened the mother’s life or health, if it resulted from a criminal act (such as rape), or if the foetus was diagnosed with a serious birth defect.


Polish abortion: Activist guilty of providing pills to end pregnancy

March 14, 2023
by Adam Easton, BBC News, Warsaw

A Polish woman has been sentenced to eight months of community service for illegally helping another woman to have an abortion.

Abortion has been almost completely banned in Poland and Justyna Wydrzynska is thought to be the first activist to be tried for aiding a pregnant woman.


Polish parliament rejects law banning “promotion of abortion”

MAR 8, 2023
Notes from Poland

Parliament has rejected a bill that would have introduced jail terms for “publicly promoting or calling for abortion” or providing information about how women can obtain abortions in Poland or abroad.

While the legislation – which was submitted to parliament as a so-called citizen’s legislative initiative supported by public signatures – was rejected by a large majority of MPs, over half of members of the conservative ruling coalition’s caucus voted either to allow it to proceed or abstained from voting.


Not one more’ woman can fall victim to Poland’s abortion laws

Women must be able to count on the EU to protect them — especially when their own governments are the ones endangering their lives.

DECEMBER 31, 2022
(Robert Biedroń is a member of the European Parliament and chair of the FEMM Committee on women’s rights and gender equality.)

During the Cold War, women from Western Europe would travel behind the Iron Curtain to access free and legal abortion services in Poland. However, the tables have since turned.

For the last 30 years, Polish women have been subject to increasingly restrictive abortion laws, culminating in the Constitutional Tribunal’s ruling, which introduced a near-total abortion ban in 2020, leaving them with fewer sexual reproductive health rights than in fundamentalist states like Iran.


Poland shows the risks for women when abortion is banned

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.