Reproductive Advocacy Success in Poland

women standing with Ukrainian flag (yellow and blue stripes) around shoulder standing at train stop

FEDERA, a Poland-based partner of Channel’s through Fòs Feminista, made significant progress in 2023 in addressing barriers to reproductive healthcare in Poland for both Polish citizens and Ukrainian refugees. In Poland, abortion is illegal under almost all circumstances. Even in special circumstances, such as sexual violence or when a patient’s health or life is at risk, access to abortion is nearly impossible. These barriers have forced some Ukrainian refugees to return to Ukraine for access to reproductive care or postpone seeking critical care.

In a newly released report by the Center for Reproductive Rights and eight partner organizations including FEDERA, titled Care in Crisis: Failures to guarantee the sexual and reproductive health and rights of refugees from Ukraine in Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, Krystyna Kacpura, the Executive Director of FEDERA, discusses the reality of these barriers for Ukrainian refugees. She states that “it was very difficult for them to understand that there is no real access to abortion in Poland and that other reproductive health services, such as emergency contraception, are very limited.”

FEDERA has greatly focused on advocacy to help combat these barriers in Poland. They have worked to increase voter engagement particularly among women which resulted in increased voter turnout in the 2023 national elections.

In addition, FEDERA have successfully opened the “first ever one-stop sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR)” center in Poland. The center will provide “in-house holistic SRH care, advocacy, rights access, support information, and education.” Through these efforts, FEDERA has been able to provide over 900 Ukrainian women with access to mental health support, emergency contraception and abortion. The center was set to be opened by the end of December 2023 and will provide services free of charge to those who are most critical and affordable services to others.

Additionally, FEDERA has started an action-oriented website dedicated to collecting women’s stories and experiences of SRHR in Poland. The site, called Historie Kobiet, contains over 100 women’s stories and serves as part of FEDERA’s advocacy efforts. These stories include personal anecdotes from women who have faced strict barriers to healthcare and its impact on their physical and mental well-being. They have been shared with Polish parliamentarians, the Ministry of Health, and the media among others.