Ciocia Czesia v rámci PRAHO! project | We Should Have a Talk

Ciocia Czesia

Ciocia Czesia is an independent, non-profit group operating in the Czech Republic. They support people living in Poland who want to terminate their pregnancies as a part of the international Abortion Without Borders alliance. The grassroots initiative started in 2020 as a reaction to a newly introduced law banning abortions in cases of severe or fatal congenital defects. Guided by a belief that everyone has the right to decide what happens to their bodies, they operate on a volunteer basis and provide help with coordinating and financing abortions in the Czech Republic, thanks to crowdfunding campaigns.

What would you feel if you found out that you’re pregnant? Perhaps joy and excitement – maybe you`ve been trying for a long time and faced loss and disappointment. Or fear – it is not the right time for you, or it never will be, to have a child. Or maybe you’d just be surprised, hoping that your baby will be healthy and worrying about how you will pay for their preschool. 

All of these emotions come with so much more gravity in a country that takes away your decision whether to continue this pregnancy or not. Fear and danger surrounding pregnancy is what we in Poland know all too well. 

The Polish state and the majority of its citizens have been in disagreement about our right to safe and legal abortion for over three decades. Safe and legal – because abortions will inevitably keep happening as long as pregnancies will. The bans aren’t really about stopping them either. Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the man behind the most stringent abortion legislation to date in Poland, practically confirmed as much when he flippantly stated, “Every average-brained person knows how to get an abortion abroad anyway”. This comment came as his government tightened their grip on reproductive rights even harder than before, forcing mothers to carry non-viable pregnancies to full term. 

Mr Kaczynski might have been a bit far from the truth. Coordinating an abortion abroad turns out to be quite challenging and definitely on the more expensive side. Financial difficulties and language barriers seem to be the biggest problems faced by Polish people seeking abortions, especially those who opt for late-term ones because of fetal defects. Procedures available for foreigners in the outpatient clinics are usually more expensive than for Czech citizens and although the law allows it, only 47 % of hospitals are willing to perform abortions on EU residents without a permanent stay, according to Abortion Support Alliance Prague`s research. 

However, we at Ciocia Czesia have been working tirelessly since 2020 to provide as many Polish people with information, access, and funding to navigate the task of getting an abortion in the Czech Republic. Since then, we`ve helped over a thousand people every year decide about their future and health, including groups that face further reproductive rights limitations, such as war refugees, trans people and those facing poverty and domestic abuse. 

We are not alone in our fight. The 2020 legislation prohibiting termination, even in the case of fatal deformation of the foetus, sparked an outrage so widespread that it pushed thousands of people to lose their shame around the word “abortion”. Collectives, such as Abortion Dream Team, are working to support people going through the experience of abortion; mainly self-managed abortions with pills ordered from abroad. And while the reality envisioned in another brilliant quote by Mr Kaczynski, “You can get an abortion on every corner in Warsaw”, is still out of reach, thousands of people are striving daily towards Poland with safe, dignified and free abortions. 

Abortion related statistics

Abortion related statistics according to Ústav zdravotnických informací a statistiky CR. Numbers only include Czech citizens and foreign citizens permanently living in the country. No official statistics for short-term stays for the purpose of terminating pregnancy are available.

Official data regarding legal abortions from the National Health Fund of Poland. The 2020 legislation came into effect in late January 2021. 

Year Number of medically induced abortions in CR Number of live births total in CR Number of medically induced abortions in Poland Number of live births total in Poland Number of people that contacted Ciocia Czesia
2022 16 400 99 800 161 305 132 1 506
2021 15 492 111 793 107  331 511 861
2020 16 886 110 200 1 076 355 309