This past Saturday, June 27, women in Poland saw the first flight of an “abortion drone.” It flew over the border of Germany to Slubice, Poland successfully — even after numerous threats to its mission. The drop was organized by reproductive rights group Women on Waves and executed by local groups Cocia Basia, Fundacja Feminoteka and the “Porozumienie kobiet 8 marca” collective. The drone delivered World Health Organization approved abortion pills, mifepristone and misoprostol, that are still unavailable in Poland.
Although abortion has been legalized or unrestricted throughout most of Europe, Poland, along with Ireland, continue to place barriers on women’s access to the services. Since 1993, the government has only allowed abortions in cases where the mental or physical health of the woman is compromised, there are instances of rape or incest, or a likelihood of impairment of fetuses. It is also mandatory for minors to have the consent of their guardians or parents.
Women have been forced to seek alternative methods because of these restrictive laws, and it’s estimated there are roughly 50,000 underground abortions in Poland each year. The abortion drone is being used as a practical, legal way to administer safe abortions while simultaneously making a massive political statement.
The groups involved are not breaking the law by using the drone; several loopholes in legislation have created the space to do so, making it legal to fly over the border due to the drone’s five pound weight and the pilot’s surveillance. Distributing the drugs is also legal; it is against the law, however, for women to take the pills, but they run no risk of imprisonment if they are caught. There is a two-year sentence for doctors who administer abortions, however.
The abortion drone is doing exactly what it set out to do – spark conversation and deliver safe abortion services to those in need. Using a drone for the service seems like the perfect form of irony, as well-In this case, instead of being used as a government tool, it is being employed as a direct move against it.