News

The report “Access to voluntary abortion in Spain: main barriers” has been published. The report, which cites also our research project on barriers to legal abortion in Europe, focuses on territorial inequalities in access, difficulties related to the choice of the method, the situation generated by the Covid-19 pandemic, and fundamentalist and anti-abortion rights groups. The second part of the report also presents a list of 45 barriers to access to the right to abortion and 45 recommendations to be taken into account in order to transform current public policies in Spain. 

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 administracja@maszwybor.net or visit aborcjabezgranic.pl.

 

ENDS

 

NOTES FOR EDITORS

 

1.  Press contacts

Kobiety w Sieci: Justyna Wydrzyńska, +48 725 892 134 justyna@maszwybor.net 

Abortion Dream Team, Karoline Wieckiewicz, +48 50107 4469, kontakt@aborcy-jnydreamteam.pl, Natalia Broniarczyk, +48 50309 8993, kontakt@aborcy-jnydreamteam.pl 

Abortion Support Network: Mara Clarke, +44 7913 353 530, mara@asn.org.uk 

Abortion Network Amsterdam, Kasia Roszak, +31 6 161 25302, offthemap@riseup.net

Ciocia Basia, Zuzanna Dziuban, +491742563357, ciocia.basia@riseup.net

Women Help Women, Kinga Jelińska, +31 645956581, kinga@womenhelp.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

January:                  228

February:               250

March:                    193

April:                      255

May:                       250

June:                      178

July:                       286

August:                   339

September:             313

 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.

 

The French National Consultative Ethics Committee (CCNE) gave green light for extending the legal period for accessing abortion from 12 to 14 weeks of gestation (14 to 16 weeks of amenorrhea). The CCNE states in their communication released on December 11th 2020 that “there is no ethical objection to extending the period of access to voluntary pregnancy termination by two weeks.”

The CCNE estimates in its report that in 2018 between 1500-2000 French women who have exceeded the authorized limit for abortions on women’s request in France traveled to the Netherlands, Spain and England to seek an abortion. According to the results of our recent study, cited in the report – De Zordo et al. (2020) – 70% of French-resident surveyed women who had to undergo such travels were diagnosed with pregnancy after 14 weeks of amenorrhea for various reasons including irregular menstrual cycles, the absence of clinical signs of pregnancy and sometimes persistent periods.

The BBC reports on new ruling made by Poland’s top court regarding abortion. The court has ruled that abortions in case of foetal defects are unconstitutional. For the full story click the link below.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-54642108

On October 8th 2020, deputies of the French National Assembly voted in a first reading in favor of extending the gestational age (GA) limit from 12 to 14 weeks of pregnancy. The bill still needs to pass the Senate before entering into force. https://www.vie-publique.fr/loi/276586-loi-droit-avortement-allongement-delai-ivg

One reason for extending the GA limit is the fact that annually between 3,000 and 4,000 French women travel abroad to obtain an abortion after 12 weeks.

https://www.lemonde.fr/societe/article/2020/10/08/l-assemblee-nationale-adopte-en-premiere-lecture-l-allongement-du-delai-legal-pour-proceder-a-une-ivg_6055321_3224.html

The bill also plans to remove the conscientious objection clause, which allows doctors and midwifes to refuse performing an abortion. The bill remains subject to debate and was opposed by the National Academy of Medicine. https://www.france24.com/fr/20201012-ivg-l-acad%C3%A9mie-de-m%C3%A9decine-oppos%C3%A9e-%C3%A0-l-allongement-du-d%C3%A9lai

We are delighted to share our most recent publications with you.

The first is our article “Consequences of Gestational Age limits for people needing abortion care during the COVID-19 pandemic” which has been published in Sexual Reproductive Health Matters.

Our second article “Gestational age limits for abortion and cross-border reproductive care in Europe: a mixed methods study” has been published in BJOG An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and is available via Open Access.

But during the pandemic, a few countries liberalized their requirements, allowing at-home medical terminations.

By Matina Stevis-Gridneff, Alisha Haridasani Gupta and Monika Pronczuk
June 14, 2020

BRUSSELS — When a 19-year-old woman from southern Poland decided to end her pregnancy at 18 weeks, she knew the only way to get an abortion was to rush to a neighboring European country.

Abortion is illegal in most circumstances in Poland, and so for years, many women have traveled within Europe to seek the procedure.

But it was April, and across the continent, borders were closing fast because of the coronavirus pandemic. So she and a friend loaded up their Renault with instant noodles and candy for a 14-hour race to Utrecht, in the Netherlands. They made it just in time for her to have the procedure and return home, her friend said.

Continued:  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/14/world/europe/coronavirus-abortion-obstacles.html

Our article has been published in Medical Anthropology Quarterly.

Access to abortion care in the Republic of Ireland during the COVID-19 pandemic

In the Republic of Ireland, temporary measures allow consultations via telemedicine for medical abortion at the GP’s office for pregnancies up to 9 weeks and 6 days. Some GPs may require some patients to come for a brief visit. Please call the MyOptions free phoneline (listed below) for your nearest clinic.

1. MyOptions Freephone Line, tel : 1800 828 010 https://www2.hse.ie/services/unplanned-pregnancy-support-services/my-options-freephone-line.html

2. Irish Family Planning Association: https://www.ifpa.ie/get-care/step-by-step-guide/

3. Temporary change of law announced April 7, 2020: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/coronavirus-gp-visits-regarding-abortions-to-take-place-remotely-1.4223488

Please click the link below for more information on this Radio France program on barriers to abortion care in France:

 

https://www.franceculture.fr/emissions/series/avortement-le-pouvoir-du-medecin

Europe Abortion Access Project Euroe Research Council Universitad de Barcelona

This project has received funding from the European Reseach Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme BAR2LEGAB-680004