Ukraine – While the right to abortion is threatened in the United States, the topic is also present in Poland, an anti-abortion country where many Ukrainian women, victims of trafficking, violence and rape, have been refugees since the beginning of their war with Russia. NGOs and activists, such as Women On Web, are trying to help them.
Medical abortion assistance service, the organization has been in Poland for years. “Before the war, Polish women crossed the border to have abortions in Ukraine, where the legislation was less draconian,” she says. HuffPost Vinny Alaa Siroua, Executive Director of the NGO.
Since 2005, Women on Web has offered abortion pill kits to women with a pregnancy of less than 12 weeks in more than 200 countries, including Poland. She says, “We receive about 25,000 letters annually from this country. Between 2020 and 2021, we received 60,000 requests. Even if not all requests were successful, it is very high.”
Since the beginning of the Russian invasion, Ukrainian refugees have crossed the border every day and faced tough Polish anti-abortion laws. Abortion is allowed only in three cases: in the case of rape, incest, or if the pregnancy threatens the life of the woman.
“In practice, it is almost impossible to have a legal abortion in Poland. Even the morning after the pill is prescribed by a doctor.”
– Vinnie Alaa Siroua, CEO of Women on Web
“Practically, it is almost impossible to have a legal abortion in Poland, condemns Venny Ala-Siurua. Even the morning after the pill is prescribed by prescription. In the case of rape, for example, a criminal investigation must be opened, and the public prosecutor must issue a certificate proving that the crime took place. “It’s really very complicated for Polish women, but it’s even worse for Ukrainian women who have been traumatized by the war and who have to justify the crimes they have gone through,” she says.
‘In the hands of local criminals’
Fresh graduate in horror: Some Ukrainian women on arrival in Poland fell ‘into the hands of local criminals’ who took advantage of their being assaulted or raped, reportedly Releasewhich was reported by the Ukrainian media Zaporona.
“Last month, a 19-year-old Ukrainian woman who had fled the war said that a 49-year-old man gave her shelter, but she was then raped, says journalist Nastya Podrozhnya, who was originally from the podium. Martinkaa Telegram psychological and legal help line set up to help Ukrainian refugees in Poland.
She continued, “The police and the prosecution collected evidence and conducted a medical examination and interrogation. A week later, the court ruled that there was no violence against the girl because she had not effectively resisted. The judge changed the charge of rape to sexual exploitation in the case of addiction.” The man was sentenced to 3 years in prison for 12 years for rape.
Polish legislation is not respected
So Polish legislation is not always respected, even in the event of a medical risk. In September, Isabelle, a 30-year-old Polish woman, died because doctors failed to perform an abortion. And this while the situation put his health at risk, and deformities appeared on the fetus.
“War rape in and of itself is a crime that is difficult to document and report,” said Vinny Ala Ciuroa of Women on the Web. It is unlikely that Ukrainian women who were victims of it will be able to obtain permission to have an abortion in Poland. ”
Since the beginning of the Russian invasion, the site has translated its contents into Ukrainian. “We work with Ukrainian helplines and activists in Poland, who provide free legal advice and refer women to us if they need an abortion,” explains Venny Ala-Siurua.
“We’ve been able to send abortion kits to hotels, hostels, and shelters, even when the women don’t have a fixed address.”
– Vinnie Alaa Siroua, CEO of Women on Web
Women with an unwanted pregnancy benefit first from an online consultation with a doctor. Women are not asked about the reasons for miscarriage. In the absence of contraindications, the medical abortion kit (Mifepristone and Misoprostol) is sent by e-mail through online pharmacies.
Consultations are free for those who need it most. “At the end of the process, women are asked to donate, at rates that are adapted to each person’s situation,” she explains. It can be a very small contribution or none at all, if the person has no income.”
For Ukrainian women, no contribution is required. The service receives five applications a day and says it has helped about 50 refugees in Poland. “We’ve been able to send abortion kits to hotels, hostels, and shelters, even when they don’t have a fixed address,” Venny Ala-Siurua confirms.
6 out of 10 refugees in Poland
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, more than 5.4 million Ukrainians have fled their country, 90% of whom are women and children. Nearly six out of ten refugees have fled to Poland. According to the Polish border guards, the three million mark was crossed this week.
On Friday, April 29, the Polish NGO warned that Poland must “urgently” strengthen prevention and control measures to protect Ukrainian refugees on its territory, especially women, victims of trafficking, violence and rape.
None of the five reception centers visited by Human Rights Watch planned measures to “expose abuse or determine the need for appropriate treatment,” medical or psychological, “after rape or gender-based violence.”
Abortion Without Borders (Aborcja Bez Granic), a coalition of six Polish and international NGOs, said it helped 267 displaced women in Poland access abortions between early March and mid-April, often by providing them with abortion pills.
See also on HuffPost: Lilas Maternity Hospital, ‘Fight for Freedom’ According to Caregivers and Users