Our friend Justyna is facing three years in prison for helping someone access abortion pills. We have the chance to help her.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Justyna was contacted by Ania* who was in a desperate situation. Ania was in an abusive, controlling relationship, and was pregnant. She wanted an abortion, but her husband had prevented her from travelling to an abortion clinic overseas.
Justyna gave her own abortion pills to Ania. She did what many of us what would do: she helped. When Ania returned home with the pills, she was met by the police. Her husband had found out about the pills and called them. Now Justyna is facing three years in prison. In Poland, terminating your own pregnancy with pills is not criminalised – but helping is.
This is the first case in Europe of an activist being charged with aiding an abortion by providing pills. Justyna, a 47-year-old from a small town in the central Poland, faces 3 years in prison. The Abortion Dream Team has launched a campaign – #IamJustyna (#jakJustyna) – and confirms that people in Poland will still receive abortion support.
This woman was 12 weeks pregnant and experiencing domestic violence,” Wydrzyńska told the Guardian. “I had my abortion at 12 weeks and I have also been in an abusive relationship. I know what it means to be in this situation. Helping her was my first human response.Justyna Wydrzyńska
Sabrina Mana-Walasek, PhD, attorney of the Abortion Dream Team, emphasizes that “termination of one’s own pregnancy is not criminalized and according to international standards is an expression of exercising fundamental human rights. Therefore, one has to wonder about the legitimacy of penalizing those who help in exercising these rights. Also for these reasons, it should be concluded that Justyna’s actions, which consisted of sending abortion medication to another person, although technically could meet the statutory definition of a crime under Article 152 § 2 of the Penal Code, were not socially harmful and should not be punished.”
In 2020 the Constitutional Tribunal in Poland restricted abortion even further and ruled abortions due to fetal malformations are unconstitutional. The Abortion Dream Team is a member of Abortion Without Borders (AWB), a network of groups working for abortion freedom and access in Europe. In the first year after the ruling, AWB has helped 34,000 people from Poland access abortions. 1,544 persons left Poland for a second trimester abortion in a foreign clinic, paid for with 315,000 Euro (1.5 million PLN) from generous donors.
Every day, on average 94 people from Poland have a safe abortion with support of the groups united in Abortion Without Borders.
What has happened so far
On 8 April, Justyna had her first court date in Warsaw. Witnesses (including Ania’s abusive husband) failed to show up for the trial, so it was postponed until the 14th of July.
The judge (appointed by the Law & Justice party) denied human rights organisations, including Amnesty International, access to the trial. Instead, the judge allowed the Kremlin’s Ordo Iuris to join the prosecution – to defend the rights of the foetus and the abuser.
The trial continued on 14 July, 14 October and 11 January 2023. The next trial dates are 6 February and 14 March 2023. Justyna still needs your support!
So far, more than 110,000 people have sent letters to the public prosecutor calling for charges against Justyna to be dropped.
The Abortion Dream Team has 5 actions you can take in 5 minutes to help Justyna. Head to the ADT website for all the information on what happened and what actions you can take (in English and Polish).
Petitions and letters
Sign the petition from Amnesty International has petitions in English or in Polish.
Read and share this statement from members of the European Parliament.
The International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) and Members of the European Parliament demanded the Polish government immediately withdraw all charges against Justyna.
Read and share this article in the Guardian.
Share campaign posts on social media:
Share your own solidarity message using #IAmJustyna and #JakJustyna.
Print and share these images in your windows/community centres/on your social media: find them here.
Follow Abortion Dream Team on Facebook and Instagram for campaign updates.
And if you can, pay an abortion forward by making a donation here.