WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A Warsaw court on Tuesday convicted a women’s rights activist for helping a victim of domestic…
WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A Warsaw court on Tuesday found a women’s rights activist guilty of helping a victim of domestic violence obtain abortion pills in Poland and sentenced her to eight months of community service.
Justyna Vydrynska’s case is closely watched by human rights activists who believe that she will set a precedent in the country with the most restrictive abortion legislation in Europe.
They feared that the charges and the guilty verdict would create an atmosphere of repression that would intimidate women’s rights activists and make them less willing to help women seeking abortions.
Planned Parenthood International, a reproductive rights group, said it was “shocked” that Wydrynska would now have a criminal record for helping a woman who was in an abusive relationship.
“We are deeply saddened by this decision and outraged by the entire process. Condemning a person for an act of empathy and compassion for another person is impossible,” said press secretary Irene Donadio.
Ordo Iuris, an ultra-Catholic legal institute that joined the prosecution as an interested party, hailed the ruling as “an important step towards real respect for the right to life of unborn children in Poland”.
“The defendant, like the entire community of abortion activists, has been promoting abortions, including medical abortions, for years, making a mockery of the well-known law in force in Poland,” the organization said in a statement.
Prosecutors charged Vydzhinskaya with “assisting in an abortion,” a felony punishable by up to three years in prison, for helping a woman in 2020 obtain the pills.
The woman, named in Polish media only as Anna, already had one child, and her partner did not allow her to go abroad for an abortion. Her partner reportedly reported her to the police for purchasing the pills.
In her closing arguments in court, Wydrynska told how she wanted to help the woman because she too was in a relationship with an abusive husband and had an abortion at the end of her marriage to free herself and her three children from it. situations.
She said she doesn’t regret helping Anna.
“I am innocent,” she said. “This state is to blame and has failed me… and millions of women in this country.”
According to Polish media, Wydrynska will appeal the case. She is the co-founder of the Abortion Dream Team, an organization that provides information and support to women seeking abortions.
Poland, a predominantly Catholic country, prohibits abortion in almost all cases, except when the woman’s life or health is in danger, or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.
For many years, abortions were permitted in the case of fetuses with birth defects. However, this exception to the abortion ban was overturned by the country’s constitutional court in 2020.
In practice, Polish women who want to terminate a pregnancy order abortion pills or go to Germany, the Czech Republic and other countries where this is allowed. While taking the abortion pill yourself is legal, helping another is not.
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