Without warning, the police showed up at Joanna’s home in Krakow, Poland, alongside a paramedic, after she had contacted her doctor.
Two police officers searched her apartment and asked for her phone. “It might be evidence in a crime,” they said. They wouldn’t tell her what crime.
Police escorted her to the hospital in an ambulance. And no, the police told her, she couldn’t call anyone to tell them where she was going.
They took Joanna (32) to a hospital, where additional police officers surrounded her in an examination area. Later, at a second hospital, other police officers ordered her to strip naked, squat, and cough, without providing a reason.
She describes feeling like a trapped animal. “I felt I wasn’t a human being anymore.”
“What do you want from me?!” she screamed.
What they wanted was evidence related to her self-administered medication abortion in April. It didn’t matter that she’d obtained the pills legally. In today’s Poland, authorities will track you down, harass you, and try to humiliate you regardless.
In short, this is a witch hunt.
To be clear, Polish law does not criminalize having an abortion itself but rather providing an abortion or assisting someone in having one (outside of highly restricted situations). The government, well-known for rule-of-law abuses generally, is here scrambling around for anything that might help prosecute family members, friends, and healthcare providers.
And the lengths authorities will go to in this witch hunt suggest a disturbing zeal. In another case, the police search for evidence included pumping the septic tank at the home of a 41-year-old woman who’d suffered a miscarriage.
The climate of fear is chilling. Joanna was rounded up after her psychiatrist had reported her to the police.
In today’s Poland, anyone can be swept up in the government’s abuse of power.