A Polish activist was convicted for helping to procure abortion pills

WARSAW, Poland — A Warsaw court on Tuesday convicted a women’s rights activist who helped a victim of domestic violence obtain abortion pills in Poland and sentenced her to eight months of community service.

Justyna Wydrzyńska’s case has been watched by human rights activists who believe it will set a precedent in a country with some of Europe’s strictest abortion laws.

They feared that the charges and guilty verdict would create an atmosphere of oppression that would intimidate women’s rights activists and discourage them from helping women seeking abortions.

The International Planned Parenthood Federation, a reproductive rights organization, said it was “shocking” that Wydrzyńska would have a criminal record for helping a woman in an abusive relationship.

“We are deeply saddened by the decision and outraged by the whole process. Condemning a person for having empathy and compassion for another person is unthinkable,” spokeswoman Irene Donadio said.

The ultra-Catholic legal institution Ordo Iuris, which joined the case as an interested party on the side of the prosecution, welcomed the ruling as “an important step towards effective respect for the right to life of unborn children in Poland”.

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“The accused, as well as the entire circle of abortion activists, have been supporting abortion for years, including medical abortion, making a mockery of the well-known law in force in Poland,” the organization said in a statement.

Prosecutors charged Wydrzyńska with “assisting in an abortion,” punishable by up to three years in prison, for helping a woman obtain the pills in 2020.

According to Polish media reports, the woman, identified only as Anna, already had a child and her partner prevented her from traveling abroad for an abortion. His partner allegedly reported him to the police for obtaining the pills.

In her closing statement to the court, Wydrzyńska described how she wanted to help the woman because she too was in a relationship with an abusive husband and had an abortion at the end of her marriage to free herself and her three children from him. state.

He said he didn’t regret helping Anna.

“I’m innocent,” he said. “This state is guilty and has failed me … and millions of women in this country.”

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According to Polish press reports, Wydrzyńska will appeal the case. She is a co-founder of the Abortion Dream Team, an organization that provides information and support to women seeking abortions.

Poland, a predominantly Catholic country, bans abortion in almost all cases, except when a woman’s life or health is in danger, or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

For years, abortion was allowed for fetuses with congenital abnormalities. However, the exception to the ban on abortion was repealed by the country’s constitutional court in 2020.

In practice, Polish women who wish to terminate their pregnancies order abortion pills or travel to Germany, the Czech Republic and other countries where the procedure is permitted. While self-administration of abortion pills is legal, helping others is not.

Source: https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/polish-activist-convicted-helping-obtain-abortion-pills-97851826