Abortion Test Used in Poland to Prosecute Women: Could American Women Be Subject to the Same Fate?

For years, abortion rights advocates have told women that no one will ever know if they take an abortion pill. But new research from Poland could cut that safety net forever. Here is the full story.

Fear of Getting Caught

Abortion rights advocates in the United States have counseled women in the use of the so-called “abortion pills” for years. And one concern that’s always top-of-mind is the fear of getting caught.

Women who choose to end an early pregnancy through a pharmaceutical approach often don’t want anyone to know they were ever even pregnant. 

But when the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in the summer of 2022, that concern rose to new proportions.

Committing a Crime?

Now, already-stressed young women aren’t just worried about their families and friends finding out about their pregnancies. They also have to worry about the authorities.

With the SCOTUS decision throwing abortion laws back to the states, women now have to worry about whether they’re committing a crime by taking pregnancy-ending pills.

That hasn’t been much of a concern for most of the drugs’ history. Counselors and medical professionals have been able to tell women that the result of taking a pill would be a miscarriage.

Past Reassurances

Any hospital in the land would treat it as such if a trip to the hospital even became necessary. More comforting was the assurance that there was no test that could tell if a woman had taken one of the two common abortion pills.

But new research out of Poland threatens to strike down all that peace of mind once it hits American soil.

New Tests Developed

Scientists from Wroclaw Medical University report that they have developed two tests to identify the presence of either drug. One is a blood test, and the other requires test tissue from a woman’s placenta.

Polish officials have already used the new tests to investigate cases where they suspect a woman took abortion pills.

Since abortion has been against the law in Poland for about three years, the use of pharmaceuticals by a woman to end her pregnancy is a crime.

The Possibility of Being Reported

Now, abortion rights advocates in the United States fear that the new tests could be used to further criminalize women seeking maternal healthcare.

If a healthcare worker reported a woman for suspicion of ending her pregnancy using drugs, authorities in states where abortion is illegal could go after her.

That might sound far-fetched, but a report in August of 2022 found that 61 women had already been reported for suspicious terminations. Of those, 27 were reported by healthcare workers.

Unnerving Stories

That’s just the tip of the iceberg — if anti-abortion activities in Poland are any indication. Since Poland created its national pregnancy registry in June of 2022, several unnerving stories have emerged.

Maybe the most heinous to date saw officials trolling the sewers for “evidence” that a woman had lied about her miscarriage. It may seem like a long trip from overturning Roe v. Wade to opening up women’s septic tanks to see what’s inside.

But try telling that to the woman who is already fighting with herself over what to do about her pregnancy and now has to wonder whether the pill that can help her will also land her in jail.

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