At this point I accepted the fact that choosing what to write my blog post about is going to be a recurring struggle for me. This one isn’t going to be in any way unique or extremely original, but at least I’ll get to express my thoughts and maybe it’ll be more relevant considering the upcoming referendum in Ireland. Funnily enough I got an idea for this blog post months ago, when I stumbled upon a Buzzfeed article. 10 Powerful Photos That Capture The Horrors Of Illegal Abortions is exactly what it says in the title. But with those 10 photos come 10 different stories, some of them about women who went through illegal abortion. So I clicked on the article fully expecting to read something about my country, and obviously, I was not disappointed. 29 year-old Marta travelled abroad to get a surgical abortion, as many women in Poland do. I didn’t find out anything new, but I had one issue with the article: this is not the full story.
Poland is one three countries in the EU where abortions is illegal. The only time a woman is legally allowed to undergo this procedure is when her pregnancy came as a result of sexual assault, there is a serious fetal deformation, or the pregnancy is a threat to the mother’s life. Unfortunately in many cases even that is not enough, as doctors are allowed to refuse to conduct the abortion through a ‘moral clause’ which they can use if they don’t agree on abortion from a moral standpoint, and although they’re supposed to refer them to someone else, that often doesn’t work either. There had been cases, especially concerning fetal deformations, when mothers found out about the problem late into their pregnancy, and when their doctors (and these are the doctors who had been with them for the past few months) refuse to conduct their abortions and the women decide to stay in this situation, only to suffer later.
So, a quick explanation on how to get an abortion in a country where abortion is illegal:
Option number 1- As it was in Marta’s case, go abroad. This is the safest option, as you can go to a place where you’ll be treated by a professional, but at the same it’s also the most expensive option that not everyone can afford. It’s very uncommon among young people, especially those who are still in school to live separately from their parents and it’s uncommon for anyone who’s still in school to have a job. So while this option is more easier (although still expensive) for grown, fully independent women, it’s basically impossible to get for a girl that’s under 19.
Option number 2-Take abortion pills. This option can range from very unsafe (are you buying the pills from a safe and trusted source or are you buying them from a random ad online) and from slightly expensive to pretty unexpensive (in this case again, it all depends on where you’re getting them- the safer and better known websites can be more expensive, but still cheaper than a trip to Slovakia)
And option number 3, that really isn’t that well recognized, and that is getting the procedure done in Poland. I can only assume this is the most expensive and risky option, because even when living in Warsaw, I can’t imagine the amount of research and money that has to go in it.
But honestly, all of this is pretty well known. I’m sure anyone here kind of knew how it looks like already, and I’m not really writing this to provide anyone with any information. What I’m trying to say, is that I haven’t learnt any of this in school. Hell, I barely even learnt anything about pregnancy in itself in school. No, this is the information that every women has to get for herself, and really, is the proof of how amazing the community and the support group among women back home is. Because really, it’s a just a regular part of your life when maybe not even your friend, but a random girl that you barely talk to in school, while hearing that you might be concerned about something, sends you a link to a website, so you can get help or actually learn. These kind of conversations were a regular thing in the girl’s changing room before PE classes. And while some of the more conservative ones would turn around and judge everyone quietly, this is just an example of a sisterhood among women who only have themselves to help. When in 2016 the government was considering completely delegalizing abortion, hundreds of thousands of women went out onto the streets to protest, it was just another, much bigger proof of its existence and the power that lies among women.
Poland is an extremely religious country, where over 90% of its population is openly Catholic, and while obviously not everyone is a devout, Catholic religion has a very big impact on people’s lives. Few examples can be our school curriculum, where any kind of sex education is basically nonexistent, and the only religion classes that we ever have in schools are on Catholic religion where we have to learn prayers and talk about the evil, immoral liberals. And this extends to our government since the country is essentially led by a 70 year old man who has exactly one female in his life, and that is his cat (and is also convinced that the current President of the European Council/ our old Prime Minister conspired with Vladimir Putin to kill his brother, his wife and over 90 other people. But that’s a whole separate blog post. In context of this one it’s actually quiet ironic because his sister-in-law, was actually one of the biggest activist for women’s rights in Poland in the past century). But don’t get me wrong, Poland is a beautiful country, and really, anyone is accepted there as long as they’re white, straight, Catholic and (preferably) male.
So really this blog post isn’t about my personal feelings towards abortion, because it really doesn’t matter what I would do. Completely delegalizing abortions doesn’t mean that they don’t or won’t happen, just like legalizing abortions doesn’t mean that every women in the country will have one every other month. It just means that women won’t have to settle for traveling abroad, or choosing to have, the often dangerous, pharmacological abortion. It will guarantee their safety and allow them to have a real choice. And really, it won’t stop women from supporting each other, and fighting for their rights.