Abortion pills at heart of reproductive rights challenges in Poland, US

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An activist in Poland was convicted on Tuesday for helping a pregnant woman access abortion pills as a legal case in the US attempts to ban access to medical abortion altogether. In countries where reproductive rights are already under threat, abortion pills can provide discreet access to safe terminations, but legal battles are blocking access to the medicine.

Activist Justyna Wydrzynska was sentenced to eight months of community service on Tuesday after Polish courts found her guilty of helping another woman to have an abortion.

Poland has some of Europe’s most restrictive abortion laws, with termination only allowed in cases of rape, incest or a threat to the mother’s life or health.

Wydrzynska, who plans to appeal the ruling, was arrested in April 2022 for providing abortion pills to a woman named Anna who was around 12 weeks pregnant and a suspected victim of domestic violence.

“It happened in 2020 during the Covid crisis,” says Mara Clarke, co-founder of Supporting Abortions for Everyone (SAFE), a group that defends access to abortions in Europe. “The postal service wasn’t working as normal and we didn’t know if the medicine would arrive in time to help this woman if it was delivered from overseas.”

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