An accidental activist
This is how Justyna says she became an accidental activist. After realising that women in Poland deserved more support and reliable information, she created Women on the Net, an off shoot of Women on Web, specifically geared towards Polish women. It provides access to reliable and unbiased counselling, as well as online information. In 2016, she co-founded the Abortion Dream Team, an activist group campaigning against abortion stigma and offering non-judgmental advice on how to access safe abortion. Justyna says they are contacted by women every day who want to access abortion care. As a survivor of gender-based domestic violence herself, one particular plea struck a chord with the activist.
In March 2020, Justyna was contacted by a woman in an abusive relationship. The woman had attempted to travel abroad to have an abortion but had been stopped by her partner. The pandemic meant postal services were unreliable and it wasn’t clear how long abortion pills ordered online would take to reach Poland. This situation meant Justyna agreed to provide the woman with pills she could take at home. However, the woman’s husband found the tablets and alerted the police. A warrant was issued to confiscate items from Justyna’s home in a bid to find the activist’s ‘stash’ of abortion pills. Justyna says they only found one box worth of Mifepristone and Misoprostol, the two pills included in the Essential Medicines List compiled by the World Health Organisation (WHO).