More Polish women travel abroad for abortions after law change

Darek Delmanowicz/PAP

The number of women with pregnancy complications leaving Poland for an abortion has increased substantially following a near complete ban on abortion in the country.

The Dziennik Gazeta Prawna (DGP) newspaper, surveyed institutions organising abortions after a Constitutional Tribunal ruling from October 22, 2020 became legally binding.

Under the new rules, terminations are permitted only in cases of rape and incest, or when the mother's life or health is endangered. Doctors performing illegal abortions in Poland face jail.

"In January this year, abortion assistance was provided 522 times to Polish women (in terms of procedures in clinics or pharmacological abortions) as part of the assistance offered by the Abortion Without Borders organisation, compared to 228 cases provided in the same period of the previous year," the paper wrote.

According to the DGP, the Abortion Support Network financed 40 procedures in January and February of this year, over three times as many as in the entire first quarter of last year.

The Abortion Network Amsterdam told the paper that in December 2020, 12 Polish women had an abortion in three local clinics.

But 20 procedures were conducted in January and a similar number in February, DGP wrote, adding that in all cases, these were pregnancies in the second trimester, and the foetuses had irreversible or life-threatening defects.

The daily reported that more and more people are also approaching initiatives helping Polish women to organise abortion procedures, including in Germany and the Czech Republic.

Following the court's judgment, the number of prenatal genetic tests has also decreased. For example, a genetics department at a large maternity hospital in the Lodzkie province conducted half as many tests in February as in January, the newspaper reported.