Recent surveys by the Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning might be considered shocking. More than 30,000 Polish women had an abortion in England last year, 30 percent more than the previous year.
Why do they choose the UK? Because until the 24th week of pregnancy, they may undergo an abortion free of charge.
British law states it clearly: A woman may obtain an abortion if the pregnancy threatens her health or life. She may also abort for non-medical social reasons, for example, if she is still in school or in a difficult financial situation.
BPAS is the British organization that subsidizes almost 50 percent of all abortions in England. And 80 percent of all foreigners undergoing abortion in the UK are Poles. A survey of three hospitals in Ealing – the Polish district in London – shows that 2,000 pregnancies had been terminated.
Abortion within the first weeks of pregnancy is done pharmacologically. Surgery is required at later stages.
“I’m not surprised at the numbers,” Marek Balicki, chief of the health board in the Polish Parliament, told the newspaper Polska. “I think there are even more women who have had unreported abortions in the UK. Poland is behind the times in contraception matters, and the law regulating the possibilities of having abortion is irrationally rigorous.”
Other Polish politicians blame the abortions on ignorance of contraceptive methods and insufficient government support of single mothers. In the UK, contraceptives as well as abortions are free.
The United Kingdom is not the only place Polish women choose for abortion. They also go to the Czech Republic, Germany and The Netherlands. But it is not free in those countries. In the Czech Republic one must pay 2,000 zloty. In Germany and The Netherlands, it is much more expensive. To obtain a free abortion in Germany, one must have an insurance number, which means a legal job in that country. German employers don’t recruit Poles as eagerly as in the UK.