A Warsaw court sentenced activist Justyna Wydzhinska to eight months of compulsory labor, finding her guilty of “illegally assisting in an abortion”. As the Russian service of the BBC writes, this is the first criminal case of this type that has been considered by a court in Poland.
Vydzhinskaya collaborates with the Aborcyjny Dream Team organization. In February 2020, as Meduza wrote earlier, she was approached by a woman named Anya, who was 12 weeks pregnant. She said she was in an abusive relationship, wanted an abortion, was going to Germany for it, but her husband wouldn’t let her go. Wyjinska sent abortion pills to the woman (the organization has done this before, but sent the pills from abroad, which is considered legal).
The package containing pills was received by the husband of a woman who wanted to terminate the pregnancy and contacted the police. A criminal case was opened against Vydzhinskaya, accusing her of “illegal complicity in abortion” and illegal circulation of drugs (the court acquitted Vydzhinskaya on this point).
Speaking at court with the last word, Vydzhinskaya, in particular, saidthat Polish abortion laws are cruel and senseless. Women who decide to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, she pointed out, will still have abortions, but in states where artificial termination of pregnancy is prohibited, they are forced to resort to dangerous methods – or they must go to neighboring countries.
“I was pushed to help when no one else was willing or able to help me. For me, helping Anya was something obvious, dignified and honest. If I had a full understanding of the conditions Anya was living in, not only would I send her pills, but I would also stay in touch to support her while taking medicine so she wouldn’t feel alone, so she have someone who listens to her, who won’t leave her alone, who will hold her hand,” she added.
The activist pleaded not guilty. She will challenge the verdict. Aborcyjny’s dream team, commenting on Vydzhinskaya’s verdict, stressed that they believed she was “guilty of providing help”.
Poland has one of the toughest anti-abortion laws in Europe. From 1993 to 2021, it was permitted to have an abortion if a woman was raped, if the pregnancy threatened her health or life, and also if the fetus presented an incurable pathology. At the end of January 2021, despite massive protests, the Constitutional Court ruled that fetal pathology, which was the basis for the vast majority of abortions in the country, cannot be grounds for abortion.