10 December 2020, Warsaw
Abortion Without Borders helps more than 5,000 people in Poland in first year; celebrates with billboards advertising their service in Warsaw
The Abortion Without Borders initiative has helped more than 5,000 people in Poland since its launch one year ago. The group has provided pregnancy options counselling, information about safe abortion with pills in Poland, and funding and practical support for abortion outside Poland. To celebrate, the group has engaged billboards in Warsaw advertising their organisation and will hold a press conference in Warsaw at 11 am local time. In their first year, Abortion Without Borders has:
▪ Received 7,007 calls from 5,237 people seeking information and help
▪ Helped 2,199 people access safe abortion with pills inside Poland
▪ Provided assistance and funding to 262 people who needed to travel outside of Poland for abortion care
▪ Provided more than £67,320/PLN329,419 in funding during this time, with an average grant of £765/PLN3,766
▪ Received a signal boost after nationwide protests against a further tightening of Poland’s already restrictive abortion laws
▪ States: “We are unapologetically pro-abortion.”
Abortion Without Borders (AWB) was set up on 11 December 2019 to help anyone in Poland access a safe abortion in Poland or abroad. In their first year, AWB received calls from more than 5,000 individuals. This is the number of people who contacted the AWB helpline and does not include hundreds more who made direct contact with 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 [http://www.asn,org.uk]Abortion Support Network (England).
Initially, the AWB helpline was hearing from an average of 250 people each month, but after a constitutional tribunal proposed further restrictions to Poland’s draconian abortion laws, widespread protests raised awareness of the group and its services, calls to the helpline grew exponentially. The group heard from roughly 2,700 people between 11 December and 22 October, and roughly 2,500 from 22 October and the first week of December.
To celebrate their first anniversary, AWB has arranged for two billboards in Warsaw advertising their services. The billboards, which provide contact information for the group, are intended to capitalise on the incredible amount of public support shown by the hundreds of thousands of people who took to Polish streets in protest against further restrictions to Poland’s already cruel and restrictive abortion law, as well as to raise further awareness about the help on offer from the charity.
Justyna Wydrzyńska, Kobiety w Sieci said:
“Abortion Without Borders is not only about sisterhood – it’s a community and unconditional support regardless of a decision that a pregnant person makes. I am proud that so many people trust us, that they reach out to us once they are taking abortion pills or planning their trips to have an abortion abroad. The fact that they have us to share that experience with, to discuss all the options they have in their situation gives them agency. There are no barriers for us – we can support financially, logistically or just be there for them. I am happy when they contact us to say they are happy and relieved to have had an abortion. I am proud to be a part of Abortion Without Borders.”
Karolina Wieckiewicz and Natalia Broniarczyk, Abortion Dream Team said:
“With the ‘constitutional court’s’ decision over 1,000 more people a year heard that their abortions are something nobody cares about. People are now on their own. Just like the tens of thousands of other people every year whose abortions are neglected by the law. We are happy that the Abortion Without Borders number has been so widely distributed. We know that people who decide to have abortions will seek out support and help, in spite of any view on abortion the government or courts might have. Abortion Without Borders guarantees that help and support. We don’t ask people for their reasons. No one needs to prove they “deserve” an abortion. All someone has to do is contact us. And we will do this as long as we are needed and will do everything in our power to ensure everyone knows how to contact us. By calling or writing us people get unconditional support. For us access to abortion and fighting for a world in which no person with the experience of abortion feels shame is far more important than laws.”
Mara Clarke, Abortion Support Network said:
“We are delighted by numbers of people who have contacted Abortion Without Borders for help with pregnancy options counselling, information on abortion pills, and support and funding for travelling abroad for abortions. When we opened to Poland a year ago, we did not expect a global pandemic. Covid-19 did not stop us helping people get abortions and a ‘constitutional tribunal’ will not stop us either. If someone in Poland needs an abortion at home with pills, we will help them. If someone needs an abortion abroad, we will help them. For now, this initiative is largely focussed on Poland – but watch out. We have plans.”
Zuzanna Dziuban, Ciocia Basia said:
“Ciocia Basia is glad to be able to expand its reach – not only to people who need abortions abroad but also to help more people accessing abortion pills and emergency contraception in Poland. As a group consisting of mostly Polish migrants, we feel strongly about providing support and solidarity to our siblings in Poland who are denied the basic human right of deciding to have a safe abortion. It has also been exceptional to see people across the globe supporting abortion rights in Poland, and people from other parts of Europe starting to set up support groups.”
Kasia Roszak, Abortion Network Amsterdam said:
“This year has been incredible. When we started our group in Amsterdam we hoped we would help one or two people per month. As members of Abortion Without Borders we’ve been part of an incredible initiative which has enabled us to help not only women and pregnant people from Poland but also people within The Netherlands who are not eligible for free abortion care. Being part of a larger group makes it possible for us to help more people, and this solidarity between people in different countries working together to help people access abortions is incredible to be a part of. ANA members also can’t wait to go home for Christmas and see our billboard in Warsaw.”
Kinga Jelińska, Women Help Women said:
“Abortion Without Borders is about solidarity, radical empathy and practical help. When we talk about borders, we mean all the obstacles faced by people who need abortions living in countries with bad abortion laws – not only geography but lack of access to funding and information and support from people who haven’t been brainwashed by abortion stigma. We will ensure that getting an abortion does not depend on where someone was born, what passport they carry, age, gender or faith. We are here with information, with empathy, with kindness, and with funding. We are here with no judgement.”
If you are in Poland and need help accessing an abortion you can call Abortion With-out 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, Kasia Roszak, +31 6 161 25302, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ciocia Basia, Zuzanna Dziuban, +491742563357, 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 calls from 5,237 individuals. Broken down by month, this is:
11 – 31 December: 227
1 – 22 October: 183*
22 Oct – 4 Dec: 2,535*
* AWB is under-reporting these numbers as there were so many calls after 22 October it became impossible to count them all. We expect to have weekly call estimates in the next few months.
Also, these numbers are only of the people who contacted the Abortion Without Borders helpline and does not count the hundreds of additional people who made direct contact with Abortion Without Borders members in Poland or abroad, nor does it include the numbers of people who accessed abortions without help from an abortion fund or solidarity network.
3. Funding provided
Between 11 December 2019 and 9 December 2020, AWB gave more than £67,320/PLN329,419 in funding towards abortion procedures, travel an accommodation costs, with an average grant of £765/PLN3,766.
4. Abortion Without Borders values:
▪ We help people access abortion
▪ We reduce stigma around abortion, whether with pills at home or at a clinic abroad.
▪ We never ask clients how they got pregnant or why they want abortions, but trust and respect the autonomy of pregnant people.
▪ We ensure that “I can’t afford an abortion” is never the only reason someone has a baby, or another baby.