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Poland: Trial drags on of rights defender accused of helping abuse survivor to access abortion

Justyna's trial postponed to October.

As today’s hearing in the trial of human rights defender Justyna Wydrzyńska is postponed until October 14, we ask Poland’s Justice Ministry to immediately drop the charges against Justyna and stop oppressing woman rights defenders (WRDs).

Justyna is charged with supporting Ania, a woman in an abusive relationship, to access abortion pills. A survivor herself of a similar situation to Ania, she took compassionate action to help the woman. Justyna’s efforts were reported to the police by the controlling husband. Ania was denied abortion care, but the stress caused her to miscarry. Now, Justyna, a member of Abortion Without Borders and the Abortion Dream Team, is facing up to three years in prison for facilitating an abortion that didn’t happen. Her case marks the first in Europe in which a WRD is being prosecuted for helping ensure abortion care by providing abortion pills.





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Abortion Care

I am proud that I was strong and that I was able to support Ania with this strength. It should not be me in the defendant's place, but our controlling ex-husbands, said Justyna Wydrzyńska.

Justyna’s trial continued today only for the hearing to be postponed to October 14 because Ania’s abusive husband was not present to testify. But the relentlessness with which the State is pursuing such an unpopular case proves how far they will go to oppress, intimidate and persecute woman human rights defenders.

“This is a terrifying well-orchestrated plan to isolate women and persecute those who support them to access health care. Justyna’s case sets a terrible precedent. Will they bully women’s families, friends and doctors next for showing compassion towards their loved ones and patients? I think so. In practice, they are trying to strip away women’s support systems and silence women rights defenders,” said IPPF EN’s Irene Donadio.

66% of Polish people want liberalization of abortion care, yet the State continues to enforce its virtual ban on abortion care and blocks attempts for legalisation.

It is also worrisome that instead of listening to the voice of its citizens, the State allows actors like Ordo Iuris, an ultra-conservative organisation, to meddle in the trial of Justyna. Ordo Iuris joined the prosecution as a “social interest party” to defend the rights of the fetus, although a fetus has no legal personality, status, or rights under Polish law.

Justyna’s trial is taking place at a tumultuous time, when the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade has robbed women in the U.S of access to abortion care. The two countries are following very similar paths - where women are forced through pregnancy and where rights defenders are dragged to court by fundamentalist groups, continued Donadio.

More on the case from the Abortion Dream Team.

Credits photos: Abortion Dream Team

Abortion Dream Team