“My boyfriend was going to help me with the costs but changed his mind. He says I can have the baby with him in Poland, or if I insist on having an abortion I should earn the money on the street."
Abortion Support Network (ASN) is a largely volunteer-run charity that helps people living in European countries which fail to provide abortion care, to access safe abortions in clinics abroad. ASN provides practical information on the least expensive way to arrange travel and abortion, logistical support, money towards the cost of abortion, travel and accommodation. ASN currently has a small staff team of 2, soon to be 5, no office, and a 90+ team of dedicated volunteers. We pride ourselves on providing a critically needed service, running our organisation efficiently and solving problems creatively.
For the last few years, ASN has been watching the situation both at home and across Europe change. Campaigners in the Republic of Ireland won the campaign to repeal the 8th, and Northern Ireland fought for provision. Our partners in Poland are fighting increased criminalisation of abortion that has resulted in an almost complete ban. As the rules on entry requirements to the UK change post-Brexit, we have been supporting more clients to go to the Netherlands rather than the UK. We’ve watched carefully as the UK appointed anti-choice ministers, prosecuted women for accessing abortion (it’s still in our criminal code!), noting that the amount of money coming into Europe to fund anti-abortion movements has grown ten-fold in as many years.
The bottom line is that the fight for abortion access and reproductive justice is heating up, and our futures are bound up with Europe. For the last three years we have expanded to support our client base in Poland, Ukraine, Romania, and Hungary as well as Malta, Gibraltar, Ireland and the Isle of Man. But the time has come where we can’t continue to do this in a piecemeal way – we need to properly build a pan-European strategy, and our new CEO will lead the most important development in our service provision since we were founded.
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