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Drone challenges N Ireland’s draconian abortion laws

Drone challenges N Ireland’s draconian abortion laws

This week a drone, carrying a supply of pregnancy termination drugs, was flown into Northern Ireland as a protest against NI’s draconian anti-abortion laws.

Northern Ireland’s status as the most religious part of the UK might be a relevant factor in its opposition to abortion.

In the 2011 Census, some 82.3 percent of its residents described themselves as Christian compared with 59.4 percent in England, 53.8 percent in Scotland and 57.6 percent in Wales. All the main denominations in Northern Ireland oppose abortion.

According to this report, the drone carried abortion pills containing mifepristone and misoprostol, which together are considered the gold standard for medical abortion.

The drugs are safe for women to use up to 10 weeks into a pregnancy. It set off from the Republic of Ireland and flew to Northern Ireland, where it landed and two women took the pills.

The women who did so didn’t say whether they were pregnant or not, arguing that was private medical information. While police officers were present at the landing site, they didn’t confiscate the medication, which had been prescribed by doctors.

Although abortions are illegal in both parts of Ireland, the differing laws in the two countries allow for a drone to fly the pills between them.

One of the women, 18-year-old Courtney Robinson, said:

I took the pills to counter the lies of anti-choice groups and some politicians that these pills aren’t safe. They’re approved by the World Health Organisation and they’re used all over Europe, and yet women (in Northern Ireland) are being prosecuted for taking them … This is an act of solidarity with them.

The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, have some of the strictest abortion laws in the world. The procedure is criminalised in both parts of Ireland.

In Northern Ireland, the penalty for administering a drug to induce an abortion is governed by a law from 1861 and carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. In the Irish Republic, procuring an abortion potentially carries a 14-year jail term.

These laws are more than just archaic legal ink. In April, a 21-year old woman was given a suspended prison sentence in Northern Ireland, where abortion is illegal unless the life of the mother is at risk. When she was 19, she had ordered abortion pills online and self-administered them because she didn’t have the money to travel to another part of the UK, where the procedure is legal.

Women who wish to receive abortions are forced to go abroad and undertake great expense to receive termination, even in cases of rape, incest, and when the foetus wouldn’t be able to survive.

The UN and an Irish court have both found these restrictions violate a woman’s human rights.

The abortion drone was both a protest and a demonstration of unity between the North and South, Rita Harrold of Rosa, one of the pro-choice groups behind the flight, said in a press release.

Today’s action is a clear message of intent – North and South we will build an unstoppable movement of women and young people until women have the right to control their own bodies.

This isn’t the first time the abortion drone has been deployed. In 2015, a coalition of reproductive rights groups — led by Women on Waves, who are also involved in this latest flight — flew from Germany to Poland, another predominantly Catholic country with extremely strict abortion laws.

While the drones can only carry enough medication for a few women, they are effective conversation starters, highlighting the great disparities in women’s access to full reproductive care. In addition to the drone, Women on Waves employed an RC speedboat on Tuesday to send more pills into Ireland.

Gompers

Dr Rebecca Gompers, the founder of Women on Waves, above, has built her advocacy career on pushing the boundaries of international abortion law. Women on Waves gets its name from her first widely publicised effort: a clinic on a ship, registered in the Netherlands and thus in international waters under Dutch law, which allowed her to bring medical abortion to women in countries where it’s illegal.

Gompers also instructs women around the world on how to use abortion pills to safely take their reproductive health into their own hands using just misoprostol, which is available in most pharmacies because it’s used for other medical purposes.

Although the combination of the two abortion drugs together is considered the safest way to end a pregnancy, and has been approved by the World Health Organisation as “essential medicine,” by just taking the right dosage of misoprostol, women in countries without legal abortion access can induce their own abortions.

Said Gompers:

Research by the world health organisation has proven that an abortion with pills can be done safely at home by women themselves till 10 weeks of pregnancy. The health impact is similar to a miscarriage. Restrictive abortion laws will not keep women from accessing abortion pills, by ship, by mail, through the internet, drone or RC speedboat!

8 responses to “Drone challenges N Ireland’s draconian abortion laws”

  1. CoastalMaineBird says:

    the differing laws in the two countries allow for a drone to fly the pills between them.

    I don’t get it – does the drone allow for some skirting of the law that a mail post doesn’t, or is the drone just a publicity angle?

  2. barriejohn says:

    Better than the religious droning on about “murder” all the time. Surely, their god must be the greatest murderer of all.

    I must say that the reason that this flight is legal escapes me as well!

  3. L.Long says:

    heir own book o’BS puts the value of a fetus at ZERO. And women are not valued much higher!
    And their psychotic killer gawd ordered abortions by the thousands!!!!

  4. Joe Kerr says:

    OT – but what have nuns really got to do with EU Referendum?????????Any idea why the BBC would use this picture on its front page
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/

  5. AgentCormac says:

    @Joe Kerr
    It had me wondering the same thing. Producers of TFTD offering up evidence of divine guidance no doubt. On which point, if you’ve ever had the misfortune to read the views of our resident village idiot Bob ‘Potty’ Hutton on the subject, you’ll know that the outcome of every election in the world is, apparently, pre-ordained by god and there isn’t a single thing that any of us can do to change that outcome. Bizarrely, not even by voting. But perhaps it is unsurprising as god is, after all, the ultimate dictator.

  6. Broga says:

    @Joe Kerr : The BBC is influenced by an RC cabal. They revere the Pope and ignore poor old Welby who is a non event on the BBC.

  7. Daz says:

    @Joe Kerr

    Judging by this page (where the picture you refer to is still featured), they’re aiming for a kind of quiky-ish “People from all walks of life voting” approach. As PZ Myers pointed out earlier today…

    ” What can’t the BBC report?

    * The BBC stops short of actually encouraging people to vote.

    * While the polls are open, it is a criminal offence for anyone, not just broadcasters, to publish anything about the way in which people have voted in the referendum, where that is based on information given by voters after they have voted.

    * The BBC can’t report anything emerging from exit polls (which, by definition, are asking people how they actually voted), although the broadcasters have not commissioned any exit polls for the referendum.

    * No opinion poll on any issue relating to the referendum can be published by broadcasters until after the polls have closed.”

    So basically, it’s just silly padding ’cause they can’t report anything of substance 'til the results start coming in at gawd-knows o' clock in the morning. I wouldn’t read too much into the appearance of nuns on the page.

  8. 1859 says:

    In Holland the police are training eagles to snatch drones from the sky – if they suspect the drones are operated by crooks who are using the drones to ferry heroin and cocaine across borders.