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Poland: Hearing of activist accused of aiding an abortion scheduled for tomorrow

Pro Choice March in Warsaw © NurPhoto via Getty Images

First case in Europe of an activist being prosecuted for aiding an abortion by providing pills

Justyna Wydrzyńska’s hearing is scheduled for 9am (BST) on 14 July 2022 at Warsaw’s Praga Południe District Court

Amnesty spokespeople in court and available for interview

Charges against an activist facing up to three years in prison for helping a pregnant woman access abortion pills in Poland must be dropped said Amnesty International today ahead of the resumption of her trial in Warsaw tomorrow.

In November last year human rights defender, Justyna Wydrzyńska, was charged with “helping with an abortion” and “possession of medicines without authorisation for the purpose of introducing them into the market”. The case marks the first in Europe in which an activist is being prosecuted for aiding an abortion by providing abortion pills.

Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said:

“The trial of Justyna Wydrzyńska comes at a time when the threat to abortion rights has been brought into sharp focus by the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. It is a reminder that our rights to life, to health, to bodily integrity and autonomy cannot be taken for granted. We must be prepared to fight for our rights for as long as it takes, when and where required.

“Anything less than all charges against Justyna being immediately dropped would set a dangerous precedent in Poland. It will also send a chilling message to other governments seeking to curtail the activities of abortion rights activists, who are campaigning for bodily autonomy and the right to access safe abortions.

“No one should be criminalised, let alone prosecuted, for helping someone to get a safe abortion. Around the world, prohibition of safe abortion kills thousands of women and girls every year.”

Abortion rights in Poland

Abortion is only legal in Poland when the health or the life of the woman is at risk or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. Performing your own abortion or the possession of abortion pills for a self-managed abortion is not a crime under Polish law, but any person or doctor who helps with an abortion outside the two permitted grounds may face up to three-years in prison. 

Justyna Wydrzyńska, said:

“A woman contacted me in a desperate situation. She told me that her violent husband was trying to stop her from having an abortion. Her story touched my heart as I had had a similar experience. I felt I had to help her.

“People who need an abortion in Poland must get reliable and unbiased information about safe abortions and they should access help and support. No one should be prosecuted for showing compassion and acting in solidarity. Not me. Not anyone.”

Take action

So far, just under 50,000 people have taken action to call on the Polish Prosecutor General to drop all charges. You can take action here

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