Polish Court Convicts Rights Activist of Aiding an Abortion by Providing Pills

Ms. Wydrzynska, who has been an abortion rights activist in Poland for the past 16 years, said in an interview last summer with The Times that she had always been careful to provide only instructions on buying and using abortion medications, and not to provide the pills themselves.

But in February 2020, she said in the interview, she received a desperate message from a woman identified as Anna who was seeking an abortion. The call from the woman, who, the court heard, was in an abusive relationship, revived Ms. Wydrzynska’s own traumatic memories of a violent relationship and getting an abortion. It prompted her, she said, to do something she had never done before — send the woman a package of pills.

“I sent Anna pills because I found out that she had experienced violence like me,” Ms. Wydrzynska told the court in her closing statement on Tuesday, barely holding back tears.

The woman’s partner read the messages between the two women, the court heard, and reported Ms. Wydrzynska to the police. She was charged with “possession of drugs without authorization in order to place them on the market” and “aiding abortion.” The court in Warsaw found Ms. Wydrzynska guilty of aiding abortion by sending misoprostol pills, an abortion medication, and sentenced her to 30 hours of community service a month for eight months.

Ordo Iuris, a Polish Catholic legal organization and anti-abortion group that was registered as a civil party in the trial, had demanded prison time for Ms. Wydrzynska but had no legal right to do so.

A representative of the group, Magdalena Majkowska, told the court on Tuesday that Ms. Wydrzynska’s conviction should “be regarded as a significant step towards real respect for the right to life of unborn children in Poland.”

Ms. Wydrzynska said the court’s justification for its decision had not been made public.

“I am innocent,” she said. “I say it loudly — the state is to blame. It has failed me, Anna, Iza from Pszczyna, Agnieszka from Częstochowa and millions of women in this country,” she added, referring to the women who died after having been refused abortions.

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