Activist Found Guilty of Aiding an Abortion in Landmark Trial | Abortion


Justyna Wydrzynska is the first activist to be convicted under Poland’s anti-abortion laws, which are among the strictest in Europe.

The first activist in Europe to face a criminal trial under Poland’s ultra-strict abortion laws has been found guilty of helping someone have an abortion.

Justyna Wydrzyńska is one of the four founders of the Abortion Dream Team, an activist collective campaigning against abortion stigma in Poland.

He was sentenced to eight months of “restriction of liberty” by performing unpaid community service, working 30 hours a month.

While taking abortion pills is not a crime in the country, helping someone access abortion pills is criminal, and that’s what Wydrzyńska is charged with.

Mara Clarke, the co-founder of Supporting Abortions for Everyone (SAFE), told VICE World News: “This verdict is outrageous but not surprising given the miscarriage of justice and waste of public funds. It should be overturned- Justyna is guilty of all charges.”

VICE World News interviewed Wydrzyńska in Warsaw last year, where she told the story of a woman with an abusive husband who would not be allowed to leave the country to have an abortion. Wydrzyńska sent her abortion pills, which she kept for personal use, to the woman who was not identified in the lawsuit as “Ania”.

“He was really begging [and] was telling me that she would do everything to stop the pregnancy,” Wydrzyńska said at the time. “This is why I decided to send the pills, because I also have experience with domestic violence. My husband is also an abuser and a very controlling person.”

“I know exactly what he’s feeling, and what’s probably going through his mind,” he added. “I knew he was so desperate that he would do even unsafe things, so I really had no choice, no choice but to share the pills.”

Ania never took the pills (she would go on to miscarry according to Wydrzyńska), but her husband found them, who called the police citing Wydrzyńska’s contact information left on the packaging.

Although Wydrzyńska admitted to police that she had indeed sent the pills to the woman, her lawyers argued that this did not mean she assisted in an abortion – words designed to restrict medical professionals from providing of abortions.

In May 2021, the prosecutor in Warszawa-Praga issued a warrant to confiscate items from the activist’s home and found pills containing mifepristone and misoprostol, which the prosecutor argued were not authorized in Poland.

In October 2020, Poland’s abortion law became one of the strictest in Europe, removing one of the very few remaining legal grounds for abortion, “serious and irreversible fetal defect or incurable disease that threatening the life of the fetus.”

The law now only prohibits abortion unless the pregnancy threatens the life or health of the pregnant woman, or is the result of rape or incest. But significant obstacles remain even for these events; many medical professionals refuse to join the army, and there ion the need to show proof of rape.

Poland is closely monitoring the case; today, four parliamentarians came to watch the court hearing as the last pieces of evidence from the prosecution were heard, including a recent speech given by Wydrzyńska to Parliament as well as a press video from ADT.

Supporters of abortion rights also attended, and showed solidarity after the prosecutor mentioned in his speech that giving a phone number to Abortion Without Borders would mean helping someone get an abortion.

The case has been repeatedly delayed due to key witnesses not appearing in court.

Source: https://www.vice.com/en/article/wxje3m/justyna-wydrzynska-guilty-abortion

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