Abortion Without Borders - 6 months anniversary
10 June 2020, Warsaw
Abortion Without Borders initiative has helped more than 1400 people in Poland in 6 months
Group has given pregnancy options counselling, information about safe abortion with pills in Poland, and funding and practical support for abortion outside Poland.
▪ Launched 11 Dec 2019, Abortion Without Borders has received more than 2000 calls from 1439 people and emails from 458 people.
▪ Of these, 101 needed to travel outside of Poland for abortion care
▪ The group has provided more than £24,867/PLN122,540 in funding during this time
▪ The coronavirus pandemic, for the group, is simply “yet another obstacle” faced by those who need abortions
▪ Group plans to keep up their work for as long as people contact them for assistance.
Abortion Without Borders, which aims to help anyone in Poland who contacts them to access a safe abortion in Poland or abroad, is thrilled to share that in the six months since turning on their Polish helpline, they have received 2,234 calls from more than 1,439 people. The group also received 458 emails during this time. This is only a count of the people who have made contact with the Abortion Without Borders helpline or email, and does not count people from Poland who have gone directly through one of AWB’s member organisations, Kobiety w Sieci (Poland), Abortion Dream Team (Poland), Women Help Women (International), Abortion Network Amsterdam (The Netherlands), Ciocia Basia (Germany) or Abortion Support Network (England).
Services the group provided during this time included unbiased, factual pregnancy options counselling, information about safe medical abortion pills including safe websites to order from, advice on abortion clinics, assistance with booking appointments, help arranging travel and accommodation, funding towards the cost of abortion abroad, translation services and accompaniment to clinics. Of the 2123 the group heard from, the majority required information, either about pregnancy options or reputable providers of medical abortion pills. Others required assistance while they were using medical abortion pills, and a further 101 (and counting) needed to travel abroad to access an abortion. Not all of the 101 pursued the option of travelling for abortion and continued their pregnancies, and a few were unable to obtain treatment abroad as their pregnancies had gone beyond the legal limit in the UK or The Netherlands.
While Covid-19 was not something Abortion Without Borders planned for before launch, Abortion Without Borders groups have taken the pandemic in stride. While restricted travel, airport closures and other “symptoms” of coronavirus have made travelling for abortion more difficult, expensive and time consuming, these difficulties have simply been added to the other barriers faced by people forced to be creative by restrictive abortion laws, obstacles which can include but are not restricted to poverty, lack of travel documents, stigma-imposed secrecy, insecure immigration status, domestic abuse and lack of affordable childcare. Abortion Without Borders is still able to help people leave Poland and access abortions in Germany, The Netherlands, England, or other parts of Europe.
Abortion Without Borders stresses that they are sticking to their original goals:
▪ Helping people access abortion
▪ Reducing stigma around abortion, whether with pills at home or at a clinic abroad
▪ Never asking clients how they got pregnant or why they want abortions, but trusting and respecting the autonomy of the pregnant person
▪ Ensuring that “I can’t afford an abortion” is never the only reason someone has a baby.
As part of their six-month celebrations Abortion Without Borders is inviting anyone who is a healthcare provider or who will be visiting a healthcare provider to distribute or display leaflets about Abortion Without Borders in medical offices. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for leaflets. They will also be hosting a Facebook Live event from 3 pm to 7 pm CET featuring interviews with Abortion Without Borders members, abortion providers, researchers and activists from around the world. Those wishing to join can do so here: https://www.facebook.com/events/270819014323830/.
Justyna Wydrzyńska, Kobiety w Sieci said:
“We have been thrilled to see how many people have contacted us during this time. We expected there to be a lot of calls in the beginning, but when Covid-19 happened, calls increased exponentially. We have kept doing what we have done since 2006 – providing clear information online and on the phone to people who need clear, factual information about abortion. And until Poland has safe legal abortion, we will continue to do this.”
Karolina Wieckiewicz and Natalia Broniarczyk, Abortion Dream Team said:
“None of us expected a global pandemic to explode three months after we launched, but people who work with abortion funds are nothing if not creative problem solvers. One thing Abortion Without Borders in the time of Coronavirus has shown is exactly how important it is for people to be able to access abortion with pills at home. A pandemic is simply another obstacle women and pregnant people face to accessing care. Sometimes it has required additional support connected with the fact that people wanted to keep abortion a secret from whose they were in isolation with. In addition to helping people access abortions, we continue to raise awareness of the safety of abortion with pills, and the fact that taking these pills is legal.”
Mara Clarke, Abortion Support Network said:
“Abortion Without Borders has succeeded beyond even our wildest hopes for it. It’s been a joy and a privilege to work with Kobiety w Siecy, Abortion Dream Team, Abortion Network Amsterdam, Women help Women and Ciocia Basia to provide practical information and support to the 1,439 people who have contacted us as of yesterday. Best of all, the funding available through AWB has meant that our partner organisations have more of their own funds to help people who contact them directly for help. It’s really a win-win situation.”
Zuzanna Dziuban, Ciocia Basia said:
“Ciocia Basia have been thrilled to be able to work together, across borders, to provide abortion and other services to people who need it. We can both be happy for the success of our work while extremely critical of the laws in Poland and other parts of Europe make the existence of abortion funds necessary. We hope that our very existence makes it even more clear that every country needs to provide safe, legal, accessible abortion for all residents.
A spokesperson from Abortion Network Amsterdam said:
“Helping people access abortion during a pandemic was not what we planned when we started this initiative, but Covid has put into sharp focus for everyone in Poland and elsewhere how barbaric bad abortion laws are. In the past, bad abortion law made abortion inconvenient for people with money and resources and exceptionally difficult for people with less money, or in abusive relationships, or with insecure immigration status. Now everyone can see how difficult it is to get an abortion when travel is less of an option.”
Kinga Jelińska, Women Help Women said:
“Abortion Without Borders is about solidarity, radical empathy and practical help. We smash borders to ensure that people in Poland can access abortion. We will help as many people as we can with information about -- and access to -- abortion pills (mifepristone and misoprostol) and share safe use of these pills as recommended by the World Health Organisation. We will ensure that getting an abortion does not depend on where someone was born, what passport they carry, age, gender or faith. Until everyone who needs an abortion can get one locally, we will be here.”
If you are in Poland and need help accessing an abortion you can call Abortion Without Borders on +48 725 892 134, email email@example.com or visit aborcjabezgranic.pl.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
- 1. Press contacts
Kobiety w Sieci: Justyna Wydrzyńska, +48 725 892 134 firstname.lastname@example.org
Abortion Support Network: Mara Clarke, +44 7913 353 530, email@example.com
Abortion Network Amsterdam, Spokesperson, +31 616111734, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ciocia Basia, Zuzanna Dziuban, +49 1742563357, email@example.com
Women Help Women, Kinga Jelińska, +31 645956581, firstname.lastname@example.org
- 2. AWB by the numbers
Since launching on 11 December 2019, the initiative has received 2,234 calls from 1439 individuals. Broken down by month, this is:
Calls / Individuals
from 11 December: 303 / 227
January 305 / 228
February 334 / 250
March 393 / 193
April 401 / 255
May 420 / 250
June (through 8 June) 72 / 36
Abortion Without Borders has also received more than 458 emails
During this time, AWB gave £24,867/PLN122,540 in grants towards abortion procedures and travel, with £19,778/PLN97,395 going towards abortion procedures and £5089/PLN25,041 helping with travel and accommodation costs.
- 3. The abortion law in Poland.
Abortion in Poland is not possible within the formal health care system except in cases of rape, when the woman's life or any form of health is in jeopardy, or if the fetus is irreparably damaged. However, it is usually very hard to find an abortion provider who will perform an abortion, even under these circumstances. It is legal to give information about abortion options and to support others, to take abortion pills, or to travel abroad for