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Zuzanna Ziomecka
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Lea Berriault Managing Editor
Cytotec pills containing 200 mcg misoprostol. Image from Wikimedia Commons
this story is part of the 27 Nov-1 Dec 2017 Weekly Hindsight Read the hindsight

Polish Post withholds packages with abortion pills

Martyna Kraus recommended by Martyna Kraus Wysokie Obcasy, Poland

Since the end of October, no packages containing Misoprostol or Mifepristone sent by organizations helping Polish women, have been delivered. For unknown reasons, the Polish Post fails to register them.

Poland Smoke signals

Why this story matters:

politics, gender, XX news

In Warsaw alone, 50 women who did not receive their mail from Women on Web. Nationwide, hundreds of women are waiting for shipments sent by various NGOs. "Our organization has been operating since 2006, so we have enough experience to say that the shipments are in Poland," claims Justyna Wydrzyńska from "Women on Web".

So where are they? Probably in a sorting room somewhere, waiting for an official to click "registered". Yet for unknown reasons this isn't happening. The Polish Post -- or perhaps -- the Tax and Treasury Office have not issued a decision concerning the amount of Mizoprostol or Mifepriston allowed in the country.

This creates a Kafkan situation. Since the consignments are not registered, they can neither be rejected nor let in by the administration.

This is in clear violation of the existing law which does not forbid women from carrying out abortions at home with the use of abortifacients.

Interestingly, these problems started to emerge after an influential, pro-life organization Ordo Iuris released a set of guidelines for prosecutors. They suggested that whoever assists in carrying out abortion -- no matter if they are based in Poland or not -- should face legal consequences. Hence, it seems that withholding the packages is yet another attempt to politicize abortion and interfere in personal decisions of the Polish women.

Details from the story:

  • In Poland, it is legal to possess pills facilitating medical abortion for domestic use.
  • Mifepristone and Misoprostol are not listed as prohibited drugs in the import procedure. Misoprostol is actually registered as a legal drug in Poland and it is commonly used in hospitals to terminate dead pregnancies and treat partial miscarriages.
  • The Polish Post issued an evasive statement on this matter: "The Polish Post respects the privacy of its clients. In customs control, we do not separate the consignments on account of their contents."
  • The spokeswoman for the Customs and Excise Office assured that, "the Customs and Post Office in Warsaw has not withheld any consignments containing pharmacological substances. The packages submitted for inspection by the postal operator are processed without delay. Also, please take into consideration that until the consignment is presented to the customs authorities, the institutions which are the most reliable sources of information on the subject are the ones delivering the package -- the Polish Post or other courier companies."

weekly hindsight12-16 Feb 2018

It’s not enough to have women in power

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