Polish Court Finds Activist Guilty of Facilitating Illegal Abortions
Europe and Human Rights Researcher,
Global Human Rights Defence
A Polish court has found abortion rights activist Justyna Wydrzynska guilty of "facilitating illegal abortions" and fined her 10,000 zlotys ($2,650) (The Guardian, 2023). Wydrzynska, who runs an abortion support group, was accused of helping women obtain abortions in Germany, where the procedure is legal, as abortion is mostly illegal in Poland, except in cases of rape, incest, severe fetal abnormalities, or when the woman's life is at risk (The Guardian, 2023).
The verdict has sparked outrage among women's rights groups and activists who see it as a further crackdown on reproductive rights in the country (The Guardian, 2023). The case has been seen as a test of Poland's strict abortion laws, which were tightened in 2020 after a constitutional court ruled that abortions due to fetal defects were unconstitutional (The Guardian, 2023). The ruling sparked massive protests across the country, with women taking to the streets to demand their right to choose (The Guardian, 2023).
Critics say that the ruling has left Polish women with little access to safe and legal abortions, forcing them to seek medical care abroad or resort to unsafe and illegal procedures. According to estimates, tens of thousands of Polish women obtain abortions abroad each year, often in neighboring countries like Germany or the Czech Republic (The Guardian, 2023).
Wydrzynska's case has also highlighted the growing crackdown on abortion rights activists and advocates in the country. In recent years, several activists have been arrested and charged with crimes related to abortion, including "causing harm to the unborn child" or "promoting abortion" (The Guardian, 2023).
Human rights groups have condemned the verdict, saying that it is a violation of women's rights and freedom of expression. "The conviction of Justyna Wydrzynska is a grave injustice and a clear violation of her right to freedom of expression and association," said Draginja Nadaždin, Director of Amnesty International Poland (The Guardian, 2023).
The verdict comes amid growing concern over the erosion of democratic norms and the rule of law in Poland under the ruling Law and Justice party. The government has been accused of targeting independent media, the judiciary, and civil society organizations that it sees as a threat to its power (The Guardian, 2023).
Sources and Further Reading:
Strzyżyńska, W (2023, March 14). Polish court convicts activist for helping woman get abortion pills. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2023/mar/14/polish-court-convicts-activist-for-helping-woman-get-abortion-pills