Abortion charities are reporting a sharp increase in the number of Polish women turning to them for help after a constitutional court ruling last month to tighten legislation. For Ciocia Basia (Aunt Basia), a Berlin-based group helping Polish women with abortions in Germany, the ruling worsens a situation already complicated by the pandemic. “We have had a high increase in callers. Three times as many as before,” Cioca Basia volunteer Ula Bertin told AFP. The Polish court ruling struck down a provision of the law that had allowed abortions in cases of severe foetal anomalies, triggering a wave of protests. Even though the verdict is not yet in force, activist groups say Polish doctors are now even more reticent to perform permitted abortions lest they fall on the wrong side of the law. Bertin said that often women seeking help “were already in the process of arranging an abortion in Poland and now no one wants to do it. So they’re mentally exhausted, traumatised”. “They’re punished twice because the child they were awaiting has turned out to be sick and may not survive, but they’re being forced to deliver. It’s emotional torture.” Other organisations are reporting a similar uptick in calls for help, despite the difficulties of foreign travel because of measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Abortion Without Borders (AWB), a multinational coalition, said that since the ruling it has helped 40 women travel or arrange to travel abroad for abortion — already more than double its monthly average. Mara Clarke from AWB said the sudden increase in calls from Polish women was also due to the fact that “protesters were chanting the name of our organisation and phone number” at the mass nationwide demonstrations.