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Human rights defender Justyna Wydrzyńska risks jail solely for supporting pregnant people in need of an abortion in Poland. Charges against her are an attempt by the authorities to punish her legitimate activism to defend access to safe abortion and should be immediately dropped.

Poland’s abortion legislation is among the most restrictive in Europe. Abortions under the scope of the Polish health system are only allowed when the pregnancy endangers the life or health of the pregnant person and when it is the result of a rape or incest. Taking abortion pills for your own abortion is not a crime but any person or doctor who helps pregnant people to obtain an abortion outside the limited grounds permitted in the law is liable to up to three-years in prison.

Justyna is a doula and a founding member of Abortion Dream Team and Abortion Without Borders, two grassroot initiatives formed by activists based in Poland and other parts of Europe that provide counselling, funding for traveling abroad for an abortion and trustworthy information following the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidance on safe self-managed abortion with pills. In 2021 a public prosecutor brought charges against Justyna in relation to a case involving a pregnant woman who sought help to obtain abortion pills for her own abortion back in 2020 at the start of the pandemic that made access to abortion even more difficult.

Legal restrictions and other barriers in Poland, including abortion stigma, mean that pregnant people find it difficult or impossible to access medicines and quality abortion care and they risk inducing abortion themselves using unsafe methods. Against this backdrop, Justyna and other members of Abortion Dream Team and Abortion Without Borders provide the much-needed information on safe abortions and lifesaving support to people who need an abortion.

Access to safe abortion services is a human right. No one should be criminalised for supporting a person’s right to safe abortion.

Stand in solidarity with Justyna.

Demand the Polish Prosecutor General drop all charges against Justyna and ensure she can carry out her legitimate human rights work and provision of lifesaving support to pregnant people who need an abortion without harassment or reprisals.