what I learned from photographing women deprived of their reproductive rights around the world – The Calvert Journal
Can you tell us about women’s rights in Poland. Was abortion legal in socialist Poland? Is contraception readily available today?
Contraception is available but you have to pay, and you have to get everything on prescription except condoms. Poland is one of the few countries in Europe where you need a prescription for the morning-after pill. It is almost impossible to get emergency contraception because you have to make an appointment with a gynecologist, which you pay, within 72 hours. [as the morning after pill must be taken within 72 hours after sex, preferably as soon as possible]. Condoms are easy to obtain, but they are not cheap. The minimum wage in Poland is € 523 per month and three condoms cost € 5. For students, that’s a lot. You can get the pill, but it’s not cheap either.
Abortion was legal under communism and also very easy to access. If there was no money to have a child, an abortion was not a problem. The law changed in 1990, after the end of the communist regime, when the April 1990 ordinance made it more difficult to access abortion. [a second, major change came in 1993, when “difficult living conditions” were removed as grounds for abortion].
Abortion is legal in Poland, but only if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, if the mother’s health is in danger, or if the fetus has a serious and incurable defect. But even when it’s legal, accessing abortion can be difficult. In case of rape, you must prove that you were raped and prove that the pregnancy was the result of rape. Also, doctors have the right to refuse to do the operation for reasons of conscience]and this can apply to an entire hospital or even an entire region. When I was working on this story three years ago, there was a whole area in the north where you couldn’t have an abortion. You had to travel 200 km to another region, or to another country. In addition, the existing law has been enforced more strictly over the past three years.