Activist Justyna Wydrzyńska felt compelled to help a woman in an abusive relationship access a safe abortion. But it is a crime in Poland to help a woman access an abortion outside the two remaining legal grounds, in the case of pregnancy resulting from an illegal act such as rape or incest, or danger to a woman’s health or life. Now Justyna has been convicted, setting a dangerous precedent and making access to safe abortion even harder for those who seek one.
Demand Justyna’s unjust conviction is overturned
Tell Polish authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure that Justyna’s unjust conviction is overturned and to refrain from bringing any other charges against her for carrying out her legitimate defence of human rights.
Justyna Wydrzyńska’s own abortion experience, with no support or access to reliable information, gave her the strength and motivation to help others make informed decisions about their reproductive lives. Justyna co-founded Abortion Dream Team, an activist collective campaigning against abortion stigma and offering advice on accessing safe abortion in Poland, where abortion laws are among the most restrictive in Europe.
In February 2020, Justyna was put in contact with Ania (not her real name). Ania was in an abusive relationship, pregnant and desperate, saying she would rather die than continue with her pregnancy. Justyna, a survivor of a violent relationship herself, knew she had to help. She sent Ania her own abortion pills through the post, but Ania’s partner intercepted the package and contacted the police, who confiscated the pills.
I was driven by the will to help when no one else wanted to or could help. For me, helping Ania was an obvious, decent, and honest thing to doJustyna Wydrzyńska
In November 2021, the public prosecutor brought charges against Justyna for “helping with an abortion”. In March 2023, she was found guilty and sentenced to eight months’ community service. Her lawyers have appealed.
Justyna’s conviction sets a dangerous precedent. Without the support and trustworthy information that she and other activists provide, people like Ania would be alone and without access to safe abortion.
Demonstrating her courage in spite of the hostility she faces, Justyna says: “I was driven by the will to help when no one else wanted to or could help. For me, helping Ania was an obvious, decent, and honest thing to do.