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Abortion Without Borders helps 125,000 people in three years

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  • In the three years since Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal ruling, Abortion Without Borders has helped more than 125,000 people in Poland to access safe abortion with more than €823,290 in funding
  • Over the last year (22 October 2022 to 22 October 2023), Abortion Without Borders groups helped 46,773 people from Poland to access abortion, spending more than €375,250
  • More than 1,235 of these people travelled abroad to access a second or third trimester abortion.

In October 2020, Poland’s “Constitutional Tribunal” ruled to change parts of its abortion law to stop providing abortions in cases of severe or fatal foetal anomalies, which amounts to an effective ban on abortion.

What does access to legal abortion look like in Poland after the pseudo-court ruling?

There is no safe abortion in Polish hospitals. Dutch clinics, French and Belgian clinics have to save the lives of Polish patients and are dealing with increasingly difficult cases of pregnancies that are non-viable and life-threatening, but easily diagnosed in the first ultrasound and should be terminated as soon as possible. Polish patients hear from Polish gynaecologists that they should wait and observe. They hear that nothing can be done. Below you can read some recent examples of people who have contacted Abortion Without Borders.

In the three years since the Constitutional Tribunal ruling, at least 7 pregnant women have died in hospitals. The latest death we know of is Dorota from Bochnia. When all of Poland learned how she was treated in the hospital, Abortion Without Borders saw a fourfold increase in calls and messages. In June 2023 alone, as many as 23 people currently in Polish hospitals turned to us for help in terminating their pregnancies. Most of these people were unable to travel to the Netherlands due to their health conditions. In these cases, we helped transfer them to another hospital or gave instructions on how to have a safe miscarriage in a hospital setting.

Who we have helped in the last year

Between 22 October 2022 and 22 October 2023:

  • Abortion Without Borders helped more than 46,000 people have had access to safe abortion
  • More than 1,235 of these people travelled abroad to access a second or third trimester abortion
  • 496 people who approached us voluntarily disclosed a diagnosis of foetal abnormality (Abortion Without Borders does not ask people to give a reason why they want abortions, so this number could be higher).
  • The total amount of support provided by Abortion Without Borders organinsations is more than €375,250 of which €227,100 has been allocated for treatments, travel, and appointments in a clinic or hospital abroad. The remaining funds are spent on subsidies for abortion pills. More and more people in Poland can not afford the €75 donation requested to order the pills, often because of the increase in the cost of living.
  • The Abortion Without Borders hotline received more than 4,864 calls from people seeking information and access to abortion, including 316 refugee women from Ukraine.

Case studies

Milena* was in the 14th week of pregnancy. Amniotic fluid began to leak, signifying a miscarriage in progress. Milena came to the hospital in June, when Poland was reeling from the death of Dotora in Nowy Targ. An ultrasound showed that the foetus was alive, but low-set, pressing against the cervix. Milena knew she was in the midst of a miscarriage. She was given an antispasmodic nospa and progesterone by the doctors. When asked by the doctors why they were trying to save the pregnancy by force, she was told that “this is the law.” Milena wanted to return home to her son, and we advised Milena not to take the drugs prescribed by the doctors so that the miscarriage process would end as soon as possible. Milena hid her refusal of medication from the medical staff. After three days, the foetus died and the doctors agreed to give Milena misoprostol (an abortifacient that induces contractions). However, the dose they gave her was far lower than advised by the World Health Organization recommendations, and Milena was in agony for two more days.

When Wictoria* spoke to us she did not know how long she had been pregnant. She admitted that she was 15 years old and had not told any adult that she had not had her period for several weeks. We managed to convince her to talk to her mother, who showed support. Wictoria and her mom travelled to the Netherlands, where she turned out to be 17 weeks pregnant. Wictoria had a safe abortion in a Dutch clinic.

Olena* and her husband lived in Ukraine, but settled in Poland because they were very concerned about the ongoing war. When they discovered that Olena was pregnant, they were concerned but happy. Unfortunately, the pregnancy was diagnosed with a serious, life-threatening illness. Of course, they were denied treatment in Poland, which came as a shock to them, since abortion is legal in Ukraine. Since Ukraine is not part of the European Union, Olena and her husband had to pay the full cost of an abortion at a hospital in Western Europe. The total cost, including tests, the procedure, travel and accommodation, was almost 9,000 euros.

Alicja* was 19 weeks pregnant when she observed an outflow of amniotic fluid. She went to the hospital and was admitted to the ward there. After two weeks in the hospital, she called Abortion Without Borders and said she felt the doctors were not taking proper care of her. She did not have a CRP test done for two weeks, and she only had one ultrasound. All she heard from the doctors was that she should lie down and wait. The fluid was beginning to change consistency, colour and odour. Alicia feared for her life. We wondered if it was responsible to send Alicia to the Netherlands, as we were afraid she might not survive the flight. We decided to reach out to a doctor working in the same region where Alicia was from. We let him know that Alicia would come to see him and urged him to help her as soon as possible. Two days later, Alicia was out of hospital after an induced miscarriage. The abortion was classified in hospital statistics as a stillbirth.

A week has passed since the recent elections in Poland, and it looks like the Legal and Justice (PiS) party will be ousted from power. If a coalition government is elected, we may see the liberalisation of Poland’s abortion laws. No matter what happens, now or in the future, Abortion Without Borders will be here to help every person in Poland – or anywhere else in Europe – gain access to abortion, which countries across Europe do not provide. We will also continue to practice and promote innovations such as telemedicine and science-based practices in abortion care.

About Abortion Without Borders

Abortion Without Borders will help as many people as we can with information, practical support, creative problem solving, and, where required and available, with funding. Abortion Without Borders believes that getting an abortion shouldn’t depend on where someone is born and what passport they carry. Abortion Without Borders welcomes anyone who is for safe, legal, accessible abortion, regardless of age, gender, faith or nationality. Until everyone who needs an abortion can get one locally, we will be here. Helpline for Service Users in Poland: +48 222922597,