A Warsaw court handed a community service sentence to Polish activist Justyna Wydrzynska on Tuesday, saying she was guilty of providing pregnancy termination pills, in a landmark case over abortion rights in the predominantly Catholic country.
Along with Malta, Poland's anti-abortion laws are among the most restrictive in Europe, allowing for termination only in the event of incest, rape or a risk to the mother's health. Helping a woman obtain an abortion is also illegal.
Wydrzynska said in court that she had sent pills to a woman who was a victim of domestic violence, according to the Facebook page of the pressure group Abortion Dream Team, of which she is a member.
Calling an abortion helpline
The woman had called an abortion line asking for help with terminating her pregnancy. Activists referred Wydrzynska to the case, after which she mailed drugs she already had at home to her. When the woman's partner found out, he called the police, who intercepted the pills.
"The pills which I had for my personal use and which I had sent to Ania are the safest way to terminate a pregnancy in Poland at the moment," Wydrzynska was quoted saying by the pressure group.
"I didn't want Ania to risk her life by taking dangerous steps since a solution is so easy and medically safe."
Rights group Amnesty International and campaigners say the case is the first of its kind in Europe.
"Her prosecution sets a dangerous precedent for the targeting of human rights defenders in Poland who are working to advance reproductive rights and challenge Poland’s de facto ban on abortion," Keina Yoshida, Senior Legal Adviser at the Center for Reproductive Rights said in a statement.