When pregnant women in Poland decide to have an abortion, they take a common but highly secretive step. “I found some phone numbers in the newspaper; I called around,” explains a young blonde woman named Jola. The doctors are listed anonymously in the classifieds section offering to “induce menstruation” or provide “full service.” Everybody understands.
“You cannot use the words ‘abortion’ or ‘termination’; rather, ‘I am pregnant ”“ can you help me?’ Something like that,” she says, speaking of her illegal abortion in the 2009 Polish documentary, “Underground Women’s State.” None of the seven women interviewed give their full name and all are well disguised.
Although the topic has long been taboo in Poland, leaders on both sides of the abortion debate now acknowledge the existence of this hidden, private practice. And this month, the Polish parliament is expected to vote on whether to liberalize its abortion policy, one of the strictest in Europe.