On 14 March 2023, Polish activist Justyna Wydrzyńska was sentenced to eight months of community service for helping a woman, a victim of gender-based violence, to get an abortion by providing her with abortion pills. This ruling sets a dangerous precedent within the EU. She is the first sexual and reproductive health and rights activist condemned in the EU in recent decades.
However, neither the Commission nor the Council have issued any official statement on this matter nor did they mention the Polish activist in the latest debate on SRHR defenders. For this reason, MEP Soraya Rodríguez asked a question for written answer (E-000993/2023), regarding the measures the Commission intends to take against the Polish government for its violation of the rights of the activists, as well as for their criminalisation and persecution of non-governmental organisations working in this field.
The work of activists must be recognised, visibilised and protected, not punished by fines or imprisonment. The European Union must be very clear in its position with Member States. The Commission’s current silence is incompatible with the condemnation of these same acts in non-EU countries. This sentence does not represent Polish society, in which 47 % of the population would have done what Justyna did: helping a woman victim of gender-based violence to have an abortion, according to the Amnesty International survey.
We must not forget that women like Justyna Wydrzyńska or Marta Lempart in Poland – as well as those who participated in the “green tides” in Latin America – are the ones who are pushing for change and the acquisition of women’s fundamental right to decide on our bodies. These activists fight on two levels: first, as human rights defenders; and second as women, facing double discrimination and double violence.From the European Parliament, we will continue to work to ensure that the right to legal and safe abortion is included in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. We will continue to focus on all Member States, such as Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, or Malta, which disregard and trample on sexual and reproductive rights. We will continue to support and amplify the voices of all the activists whose work is critical.
Calling for the Right to Abortion to be a fundamental right
Photo Action #IamJustyna in European Parliament