The Struggle of Ukrainian Women Accessing Abortions in Poland

Jakub Ferencik
3 min readMay 13, 2022

More than 3 million Ukrainians have made their way to their neighboring nation, Poland, which has welcomed them with open arms. However, concerns have been put into public attention over raped women at the hands of Russians who have difficulty terminating pregnancies.

Poland, where some of the most stringent abortion laws in Europe limit women’s reproductive rights, will have to make exceptions to their outdated abortion laws if they are to grant women the freedoms they deserve.

Photo by Iwona Castiello d'Antonio on Unsplash

The UN says that as of 11 May, more than six million people have left Ukraine:

  • Poland has taken in 3,272,943 refugees
  • Romania 895,828
  • Russia 785,348
  • Hungary 583,066
  • Moldova 459,546
  • Slovakia 409,527
  • Belarus 27,308

One similar theme between these countries are their stringent abortion laws, of which Poland has some of the worst.

Reproductive Rights in Poland

In Poland, prior to 2020, women were only allowed to access abortion under these conditions:

  • a fetal abnormality
  • rape
  • incest
  • to protect the mother’s life

Because of the religious demographics in Poland, there are many social factors that also come into consideration when accessing abortion. For example, doctors in Poland can even refuse to perform legal abortions based on religious grounds. In most places in the West (or Global North), personal persuasion does not trump the right of the women to choose an abortion if they wish to do so.

In October 2020, however, the situation in Poland got much worse, changing some of the already stringent abortion laws and preventing abortions of fetus’ with birth defects. Since then, some exceptions have been urged by pro-life advocates. “In cases when the fetus doesn’t have a skull or has no chance to live outside the womb, there should be a choice. We will work on this,” Marek Suski, a PiS lawmaker, told public radio.

Jakub Ferencik

Author of “Up in the Air” & “Beyond Reason” available on AMAZON | MA McGill Uni | Research assistant for EUROPEUM Prague | 700+ blog posts with 1+ mil. views