A Ukrainian TikToker funded 100 abortions for Ukrainian women, citing laws that make it hard to get treatment if Russian soldiers rape them

A composite image showing Max Klymenko and a Ukrainian woman standing in a destroyed home
A composite image showing Max Klymenko speaking in his TikTok and a woman standing beside a Russian tank in her father's destroyed home near Chernihiv, northern Ukraine, on April 23, 2022.TikTok/Max Klymenko/AP Photo/Francisco Seco
  • A Ukrainian TikToker donated funds for 100 Ukrainian refugees to get abortions.

  • He said he was moved by hearing of Ukrainians pregnant after rape by Russian soldiers.

  • Many Ukrainians fled to Poland, which has a near-total ban on abortion.

A Ukrainian TikToker donated funds for 100 people to have an abortion, an act he said was prompted by laws that mean Ukrainians who were raped by Russian troops may struggle to access the procedure in their new countries.

Max Klymenko, who lives in the UK, made a TikTok about giving the funds to the Abortion Support Network (ASN), a charity aiding abortion access across Europe.

Klymenko told Insider he donated €7,000 ($7,300) to help Ukrainians whose lives have been "completely upended" since Russia invaded their country, Russian troops have raped Ukrainians, and millions have fled the country.

Many fled to places with more restrictive abortion laws than Ukraine, particularly Poland, which neighbours Ukraine.

The Abortion Support Network confirmed Klymenko's donation to Insider.

@maxklymenko I didn’t believe it when I first saw it… but it’s the sickening reality 😔 #ukraine #poland #abortionban ♬ original sound - Max Klymenko

People who fled Ukraine may want abortions for many reasons, including personal choice, their own health, and having been raped by Russian soldiers. Klymenko's video cited reports of a 14-year-old girl who became pregnant after being raped by five Russian soldiers.

Klymenko said he made the TikTok to bring attention to the issue, and to encourage other people to consider donating to abortion access themselves.

"I have certain level of funds that I'm able to donate, but it's not unlimited," he told Insider. "I made my donation public and encouraged others to do the same."

He said others donated in response: "I had a bunch of emails the next day from people who said they donated."

Mara Clarke, founder of the ASN, confirmed to Insider the organization recieved more donations after Klymenko's video.

Klymenko said that, alongside messages of support and more donations, he has recieved abuse and death threats.

But he said he's also been contacted by people "who said they are generally pro-life, but this video has actually made them change some of their views."

He said one factor had been people realising "how difficult it is to prove" rape, which Poland requires, in a war.

In his video, he asked Abortion Without Borders, of which the ASN is a part, how many outstanding requests for help it had from Ukrainians, and then how much it would cost to pay for all of them.

Clarke said the organization welcomes donations from Klymenko and others, but the money will not just go to Ukrainians: "We don't ring fence funds. We help anybody who contacts us ... We don't think your country of origin or your country of residence should impact your right to access healthcare."

A near-total abortion ban

Poland has been the largest host country for Ukrainian refugees. It also has much more restrictive abortion laws.

Its approach is a near-total ban. Pregnancies from rape are allowed to be aborted, but only if women open a criminal case, and get permission from a prosecutor.

Campaigners say women who were raped may be too scared to do this, particularly if they are coming from another country where they were raped in war.

Many Polish doctors also refuse to perform abortions even in cases when they are deemed legal.

Clarke said many Ukrainians were "shocked to find that they can't access legal abortion in Poland."

She said many who have fled Ukraine would not yet know that they were pregnant, and would struggle to prove they had been raped within the timeframe Poland permits abortions to take place.

"It's just laughable," she said.

Abortions Without Borders both provides abortion pills and funds people's journeys to other countries .

Clarke said between March 1 and May 15, the organization helped 397 people displaced by the war to access abortions.

So far the organization has mostly provided pills, which can be used earlier in people's pregnancies. The quote the organization gave to Klymenko for the cost of 100 abortions was for pills, Clarke said.

Clarke said the organization will soon have to help more Ukrainians, and its work will become more expensive.

She expects more Ukrainians will realize they are pregnant as the conflict continues, and people will be further along in their pregnancies — meaning they need to travel abroad instead of taking pills.

"The conflict is 12 weeks old. We expect the number of people needing to travel to go up exponentially."

Read the original article on Business Insider