The past year will always be associated with the beginning of the largest armed conflict in Europe in years. Russian aggression against Ukraine has changed the lives of all of us, and it can be felt in virtually every aspect of everyday life. It has also influenced our work. Since the outbreak of the war, FEDERA has been providing war refugees with support in access to sexual and reproductive health services. We quickly built not only a support system in Poland, but also organized international financial and humanitarian aid for war refugees seeking shelter in various countries of Central and Eastern Europe.
Two weeks after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, our activities were lightened a bit by groundbreaking news. The World Health Organization issued new guidance on abortion care, explicitly stating for the first time that abortion pills are not only safe, but are the preferred method of abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy. Thanks to this, we were able to reassure hundreds of women who came to us, including war refugees, and provide them with even better support.
Despite this, the past year also saw the deaths of more women. Agnieszka from Częstochowa and Marta from Katowice died in hospitals where they should have received reliable care. Carrying the memory of them in us, we did everything possible every day to prevent the anti-abortion law from taking an even greater toll. We also handled the case of Marina from Warsaw, who – lied to by a doctor – was almost forced to give birth to a fetus without a skull. After our intervention, the abortion was performed. However, we did not end there – we represent Marina before the Ombudsman for Patients’ Rights, we are planning the next steps. We have defended and defend everyone whose rights have been violated.
In order to better understand the scale of violations of the right to access contraception in Poland, we also began monitoring access to insertion of IUD as part of the National Health Fund. Results of our monitoring project are very popular with both women and the media. Today we know that more letters to the Ministry of Health and a wide promotional campaign of the project strengthen the assertiveness of patients, and also improve the practices of doctors from all over the country.
More and more people from the medical community, although often silently, express their disagreement with the extreme restrictions that the anti-abortion law imposed on their profession. In 2022, however, this did not stop the fundamentalists from making further attempts to tighten the inhumane regulations. In December last year, Kaja Godek submitted a bill to the Sejm to prohibit even informing about the possibility of abortion. We immediately prepared a commentary and a legal analysis, and soon we will deal with the fight against disinformation led by the Kai Godek foundation and – we are not afraid to say it – an attack on human rights.
We also constantly fought for reliable sex education. The Ponton Group was operating at full speed throughout the year. Ponton’s educators ran campaigns and workshops, answered questions from young people, organized webinars and training, and supported Ukrainian youth in accessing knowledge. Ponton spoke, among others, on the infamous Lex Czarnek and Lex Czarnek 2.0 draft bills, publicizing their harmfulness and mobilizing more people in the country to actively oppose them.
We enter 2023 strong, confident in ourselves and our work. We will continue to support access to abortion, work to liberalize the anti-abortion law and improve the quality of health care, educate and fight fundamentalists. Today, we present the fruits of our hard work in 2022 and move on.