Growing up, I never thought of Poland as a country that’s hard to live in. My life was absolutely normal. I was born in a normal city, I grew up with normal people, I was going to a normal school and I never had any problems.
Of course, I had heard a lot about ‘black umbrella’ protests – feminists fighting for women’s rights – but my life wasn’t impacted, so I didn’t have any reason to fight. I believed my country was good for women – we can work, live, earn money, join political parties, access healthcare and maternity leave. I thought everything in my country was kind of fine. Until now.
Being always aware and careful about pregnancy and contraception methods wasn’t enough. Unfortunately, an unplanned pregnancy happened to me. In the worst possible moment, I saw four positive pregnancy tests.
That day, stress and insomnia became my norm. I tried to think straight and handle the whole situation. I was sure I could do it somehow. After all, I lived in a civilised country with technology, wi-fi, electric cars– so surely I’d find a safe way to stop an unwanted pregnancy.
I didn’t know how naive I was.
Confirming the pregnancy was fast and easy and the doctor was kind and gentle. During the consultation however, she told me: “I see the baby on your USG test”. For me “baby” was the last word I wanted to hear.
When I left the doctor’s office and started calling my friends, one of them reminded me that during the women’s protests, a phone number appears for girls who seek abortion. I called the hotline – managed by two activists – and I found out that I had two options: order pills via post and manage things independently at home, or go to a professional clinic in another country.
I was absolutely shocked! Such a simple thing as making decisions about my own body turned into a ridiculous mission. I started feeling like I was in a third world country. I didn’t have time to decide what I wanted, I knew I may need the pills so I ordered them in advance. Nobody was able to tell me how long I should wait– maybe one week, maybe 5 weeks. What would the package look like?
During that period, I felt like time ran much slower than usual. I was overthinking my decision and checking my mailbox everyday. To kill the time I started walking alone. It was March 2021, when pro-life campaigns were absolutely everywhere in Poland. I felt like I was slowly going crazy, seeing huge billboards illustrating embryos emblazoned with slogans like, “don’t kill them”.
They wanted to make me doubt my decision, but they only succeeded in making me hate them.
After two weeks, I finally found the letter in my mailbox. It was anonymous and the pills were wrapped inside in a newspaper. Before it came I was studying this topic a lot. I was perfectly prepared and everything was ready. Even so, the fact I had to do this at home, with the risk of possible complications made me terrified.
The whole abortion was an easier process than I expected and I got through that experience by the book. After everything, I knew it was the best decision. I lost the fear, stress and compulsive thoughts.
I expected the last step to be just a formality. I went to the hospital to make sure I was not pregnant anymore. During the few hours of waiting I was searching for words to tell the doctor what I did. I was scared to say those words.
When I saw a middle-aged woman inviting me to her office, I suddenly started feeling unsafe. Without thinking, I turned on the voice recorder on my smartwatch. I mentioned the pills I took and was immediately told that I had broken the law. The doctor told me she’d need to notify the authorities.
She didn’t ask me about my health, or how I was feeling, only in the process of how I’d accessed the pills. When I asked her if I was still pregnant, she told me, “I will not comment on it”.
She said she wanted to keep me in the hospital for a few days but I ran away. The doctor didn’t cause me doubts. She made me even more angry.
At that moment, I knew I had nothing to lose. I could help other people and maybe educate doctors how to treat people with a minimum level of respect. I published the recording anonymously on YouTube and it went viral in one day. Every newspaper in Poland started publishing articles about me. When the whole situation became a big national affair, and my name had been published, I was scared of other people’s opinions. How would my friends, workmates and family react?
Unexpectedly, most people supported me. Left-wing organisations offered me huge help and I felt the power of words, they’re always chanting at protests – “you will never walk alone”. These words gave me strength that I didn’t even worry about the haters and people calling me a murderer.
That day I started feeling like a part of a crew. I knew I had done something really important for my society, for girls my age and I stopped being ashamed of my story. Now, I share it every time I can, like on tonight’s episode of SBS Dateline.
Sometimes I think that I’m grateful it happened to me and opened my eyes to the ridiculous, sad and dramatic situation in Poland. If none of this happened I’d still stand aside without any awareness. I hope people of this country don’t need to experience what I did, but listen to stories of others and continuously fight for equal rights and respect, because Poland really needs it.
You can watch Klaudia’s story tonight on SBS Dateline at 9.30pm.