24 Jun 2015

Drones to deliver abortion pills into Poland

Abortion rights activists will use drones to move packages of medical abortion pills from Germany into Poland. Access to abortion in Poland is among the most restricted in Europe.

A drone carrying packages of abortion pills will take a trip over the border between Germany and Poland this weekend, in the first trip of its kind, delivering a small number of packages to specific women’s rights groups in Slubice.

The drone will travel from Frankfurt on Saturday and requires no authorization under Polish or German law, reproductive rights group Women on Waves said. Traditionally used for military and surveillance purposes, the use of drone technology to deliver packages is currently being tested by both Google and Amazon.

Abortion in Poland has been severely resticted since 1993; women may be granted a termination of their pregnancy only in cases of rape, incest, or when their life is in danger, or there is potential damange to the foetus. In Germany abortion is legal on demand within the first trimester, though some restrictions apply after this time.

The drones will be distributed to various women’s groups as a way of circumventing the restrictions.

In a statement, Women on Waves said: “As the abortion drone weighs less than 5kg, is not used for commerical purposes, will stay within the sight of the person flying it and does not fly in controlled airspace, no authorization is required under Polish or German law.”

Pilot project

Rebecca Gomberts from the group told Channel 4 News the drone technology is just the latest tool in their arsenal against the restrictions being placed on women’s reproductive choices. In the past the group have used a mobile clinic onboard a ship which they dock in countries where abortion is restricted.

“We use ships, online apps, our website, anything we can to let women make their own choices on when to have children. The drone can cover some distances and it is affordable – the technology is now available for broader purposes than it was designed. This is a pilot project – we will learn all we can from it and the experience and we will hopefully develop this method as another one of our tools.”

Gomberts said that should the flight this weekend work out, there is a possiblity they could do the same thing in Ireland, where abortion remains very strictly controlled on both sides of the border.