In what may be the most innovative use of drone technology yet, women’s rights activists are planning to deliver abortion pills to Poland by drone this weekend. In their press release, Women on Waves noted that despite the negative association developed between drones and warfare in recent times, the technology has also been used by companies like Google and Amazon to deliver packages. And it is this functionality that the women’s rights group is adapting, with a very specific package in mind.
According to Women on Waves, whereas women throughout most of Europe have safe access to abortion and other reproductive health mechanisms, Poland, Ireland, and Malta remain behind the times, heavily restricting the practice. Only in cases where the mother’s life is in danger, there is potential damage to the fetus, rape or incest are women granted legal abortions, whereas in neighboring Germany, economic or social reasons can also be cited as reasons for an early termination of pregnancy.
On Saturday, June 27, at 11 a.m. local time, the first “Abortion drone” will make its journey from Germany to Poland. The group’s press release notes that packages weigh less than 5 kilograms (11 pounds), that the drones are not being used for any commercial purposes, and will stay within the sight of the person operating the drone. Furthermore, there will be no encroachment upon restricted or controlled airspace, and as such, will not require authorization from either the Polish or German government.
The move ultimately aims to raise awareness around the injustice of the lack of access to the procedure faced by women in Poland. Said Rebecca Gomperts, the director of Women on Waves, “Women in Poland don’t have access to safe abortions. It’s legally restricted, and this is causing a lot of social injustice for a lot of women.” Gomperts’ group has previously employed the use of boats to deliver contraceptives and perform safe abortions to women traveling in international waters, hence their name.
“This is really about fundamental women’s rights,” added Gomperts. It is estimated that some 50,000 unauthorized abortions take place in Poland every year, presenting significant health risks to the women as well as a huge financial burden. While the drones will only be carrying enough supplies for two to three women (who will rendezvous at an undisclosed location), the stunt will, at the very least, draw attention to the issue both nationally and internationally.
Said Gomperts: “We want to create awareness about women’s right to a safe abortion. The drone is another way to use the different laws in different countries in order to draw attention to the social injustice that women who are living in places where abortion is illegal are subject to.”