Polish Catholics oppose abortion pills


Central Europe


Photo AFP, Olivier Douliery

A conservative Catholic legal organisation in Poland has published a guide encouraging the prosecution of people who use, supply and advertise abortion pills. These pills are the primary way women terminate pregnancies in a country where abortion is almost entirely banned.

“We are dealing with a huge problem”, says Magdalena Majkowska from the Ordo Iuris Management Board during the presentation of the guide. According to her, abortion organisations in Poland are “trying to normalise the crime of aiding abortion”. She furthermore states that these organisations can work “with the tacit consent of law enforcement agencies”. According to Majkowska, the authorities remain passive in cases like this. Majkowska says that when her organisation submits notifications of such crimes, prosecutors generally refuse to initiate proceedings or later discontinue them without action.

Therefore, to combat the so-called “pills of death” and to assist prosecutors, think tank Ordo Iuris published its 30-page guide. In it, the Catholic NGO calls for tougher action against those who supply and advertise abortion pills.


However, the NGO goes even further by arguing that women who use abortion pills are breaking the law.

As well as calling for tougher action against those who supply and advertise abortion pills, Ordo Iuris goes even further, also arguing that women who use abortion pills are breaking the law. “In Poland, self-administered pharmacological abortion by a woman (an unauthorised person) should be considered illegal,” reads its legal guide.

That position stands in contrast to other legal opinions, reports news portal Notes from Poland. The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights told this news portal earlier this year that “women’s actions intending to terminate their pregnancy – whatever they might be – will never result in criminal liability”.

Under Article 157a of Poland’s criminal code, anyone who causes harm to an unborn child can face up to two years in prison, but the mother of the child is specifically exempted from the law.


Notes from Poland recalls the case of a pro-choice activist, Justyna Wydrzyńska. Her trial began in April after she was charged with “providing a pregnant woman with help in terminating a pregnancy or inducing her to do so”, a crime that carries a prison sentence of up to three years. As CNE reported earier, Wydrzyńska had provided a pregnant woman, named only as Ania, with abortion pills. Ania’s husband discovered them and reported them to the police. Ania herself has not faced any charges.

As CNE reported earlier, the number of legal abortions dropped by 90 per cent last year. However, the declining numbers do not show the full scale of abortions in the country. There are various estimates, from several dozen illegal abortions to 200 thousand cases a year.



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