What it’s like to have an illegal abortion in Poland

…I studied and I worked in a shop where I made PLN 1,000 [about $250] a month. That wasn’t enough to get by, but my mom paid my rent. I was living with my boyfriend at the time, who was a musician and often went on tour. It wasn’t a healthy relationship. My boyfriend was French and didn’t feel comfortable around my friends. He had no interest in trying to integrate or fit in. He was extremely jealous and hated it when I went out. Honestly, I have no idea why I stayed in that toxic relationship.I wasn’t able to buy the pill, so I asked my boyfriend to use a condom instead. He had just come back from touring with his band and thought I wanted him to use a condom because I had cheated on him. I denied it, but he pressured me into having sex without a condom to prove I had been faithful. I was so depressed and emotionally numb that I just gave in.After a few weeks, I took a pregnancy test, and it came out positive. He wasn’t affected at all by the news, he blamed me, and told me to take care of it. At the time, I felt there was no safe way out of the situation – I was worried I might not find anyone willing to help me or lend me the moneyFrom Women on Web I learned about the abortion pill but I didn’t know anyone who had experience with that. I heard that if those pills are mailed to you they can be confiscated and that there could be complications. It didn’t seem right for me at that moment. A year earlier, a friend of mine had been in a similar situation, and she had undergone a procedure in a clinic, so she gave me the contact details of the doctor who had treated her.I had my first appointment in the middle of the day in a private clinic in the center of Warsaw. I was four weeks pregnant at the time. Given my wages, the procedure was incredibly expensive; it would cost me PLN 3,650 [about $920]—which was almost four times what I made in a month.The clinic was clean and elegant; there were no coat hangers or dirty bandages. A nice female doctor examined me and had a routine chat with me about my pregnancy – which wasn’t put on my medical records. At the end of the appointment, she asked me whether I wanted to “keep it as it is”. I said I didn’t. We scheduled the procedure for the following week in a different clinic.I was treated by three doctors: an anaesthesiologist, a surgeon-gynaecologist, and the lady who had examined me during the first appointment. In the waiting room, I sat next to a visibly pregnant woman who was waiting for a check-up. In the doctor’s office, I changed into a hospital gown, got the anaesthesia, and I blacked out. Maybe two hours later, I woke up, and when I felt better, I took the bus home. On the bus, I started to bleed – when I got home, my skirt was covered in blood.Did they warn you that could happen?No – the doctor had given me her number and told me I could call her in case there were any complications. I was bleeding profusely, and it didn’t stop overnight, so I finally called the doctor and had a free follow-up appointment. She gave me some kind of injection, but the bleeding only stopped after three days.How did the people around you feel about your abortion?When I came home after the procedure, my boyfriend didn’t even turn from his computer – so I absolutely knew I had done the right thing. He left about a month later. He didn’t support me financially in any way. I had borrowed the money for the abortion from a friend and had to pay her back over the subsequent months.The only thing my mom said after I had told her everything was, “Why did you do this to me?” She is religious, but she might also have been worried she would have to pay for it. We never talked about it again. My friends were all very supportive, though…SOURCE: Vice, by Izabela Szumen, 26 October 2016PHOTO: First Post, AP/Geert Vanden, Poland, 3 October 2016