Ukraine’s Women Refugees Face the Harsh Reality of Poland’s Abortion Restrictions

In the early days of May, in the third month of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a mother in her early 40s crossed the border into Poland, seeking safety for herself and two teenage children. She also carried with her a secret: as Russians advanced on her hometown, she was raped by Russian soldiers.

She didn’t want anyone to know what happened, according to the Polish NGO that came to her aid. Her husband, who is in the Ukrainian army, was fighting and away from home. Once in Poland, the woman discovered she was pregnant. But getting an abortion in a country with a near-total ban, and navigating this terrain in a new language, was far from simple.
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“She called me crying, ‘please take it out of me, help me,’” says Krystyna Kacpura, president of the Foundation for Women and Family Planning (Federa), a Polish reproductive rights organization. Federa was able to organize a rare medical abortion for the woman in a Warsaw hospital, using a small exception in the law for cases of rape. “She was so afraid her husband and children would find out. But we managed to do it all in secret,” says Kacpura.

More than 6 million Ukrainians, mostly women and children, have fled their country since the war began, creating Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War Two. Poland has taken the lion’s share, earning praise from Western powers, even as that generosity has raised uncomfortable questions about its treatment of asylum seekers from the Middle East and Africa.

But the longer the war continues, and with it the sexual violence committed by Russian troops against Ukrainian women and girls, the more Ukrainian refugees in Poland will need access to emergency contraception and abortion services. The country’s reproductive rights campaigners and providers of …read more

Source:: Time – World


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