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Polish pro-choice activist on trial over abortion pills

"The case marks the first in Europe in which an activist is being prosecuted for aiding an abortion by providing abortion pills," Amnesty International said ahead of the trial.

(AFP) — A Polish pro-choice activist went on trial Friday for supplying a pregnant woman with abortion pills in the Catholic country, in the first such case in Europe.

Poland has one of Europe's most restrictive termination laws and all abortion is banned except in cases of rape and incest, or when the mother's life or health is considered at risk.

The activist, Justyna Wydrzynska, faces up to three years in prison for "helping with an abortion" and "unauthorised possession of medicine".

"I hope that this case will be a turning point in Poland's legal system and that in a few years, abortion pills will be sold at gas stations alongside condoms," Wydrzynska told AFP. 

The member of the "Abortion Dream Team" organization is accused of having provided the pills to a woman in her twelfth week of pregnancy in 2020.

The woman had reached out for assistance, saying she was a victim of domestic violence and that her husband had stopped her from going to a German abortion clinic, Wydrzynska told AFP. 

Later, while waiting at home for the abortion pills, she said her husband called the police, who confiscated the package and launched an investigation. 

"The case marks the first in Europe in which an activist is being prosecuted for aiding an abortion by providing abortion pills," Amnesty International said ahead of the trial.

Join our hosts as they take you in and out of courtrooms in the U.S. and beyond.

The rights group called for the charges against Wydrzynska to be dropped "immediately". 

The activist told local media that she had been guided by empathy towards the pregnant woman, whom she did not know, having herself been in a similar situation several years ago. 

Poland has long had a restrictive abortion law which was further tightened after the Constitutional Court in 2020 sided with the right-wing government to rule that terminations over fetal defects were unconstitutional.

Dozens of pro-choice activists gathered in front of the court in Warsaw to support Wydrzynska, while anti-abortion activists stationed a van covered with the slogan "the pill kills" and an image of an aborted fetus. 

Following Friday's hearing, the court case was adjourned to July 14. 

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© Agence France-Presse

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