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Poland Has Abortion Drones. We Need Abortion Drones.

Illustration for article titled Poland Has Abortion Drones. We Need Abortion Drones.

Last week, the Dutch abortion activists of Women on Waves successfully flew a quadcopter carrying abortion-inducing pills into Poland, a country where abortion is virtually outlawed. The drones carried mifepristone and misoprostol, two drugs that have been approved by the World Health Organization since 2005 as a safe and effective way to terminate a pregnancy.

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Polish women can only undergo an abortion if there is evidence of rape, incest or severe fetal abnormality. It is estimated that there are 50,000 illegal abortions preformed in Poland each year by doctors who use outdated tools and charge exorbitant prices for the procedure.

On June 28th, Women on Waves traveled to the German town of Frankfurt with medication prescribed by a Dutch gynecologist and flew their abortion drone to two women associated with the Polish feminist organization Feminoteka, who were waiting across the river in Slubice, Poland.

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Anti-abortion activists threatened the two Polish women with violence and plastic fetuses. Nevertheless, the medication reached them, and they promptly swallowed the pills. It was a symbolic act, as neither of the two were pregnant. (BUT HOW FUCKING COOL IS THIS WHOLE STORY? ARE YOU READING THIS? LET’S BUILD AN ABORTION DRONE ARMY.)

Illustration for article titled Poland Has Abortion Drones. We Need Abortion Drones.

“The operation went well,” Jula Gaweda, one of the Polish activists, told a reporter. “Just a few kilometres (between the take-off and the landing site) can be a gulf in terms of respect for women’s rights, reproductive rights, which are human rights.”

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After the abortion drone landed, German police confiscated Women on Waves’ drone controllers and personal iPads. The police are also attempting to press criminal charges, though it’s unclear on what grounds, given that the Netherlands, Germany, and Poland are all part of the Schengen area agreement which allows open borders for travelers and goods.

Women on Waves started in 1999 and has branched off into Women on Web, an organization that provides abortion drugs to women all over the world by mail. Previous to this expansion, Women on Waves undertook several radical missions to physically provide contraceptives and abortions to women with restrictive reproductive laws.

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In 2004, Women on Waves were blocked by warships when they tried to enter Portugal. Before Spain legalized abortion in 2010, Women on Waves arrived on the country’s coast in 2008 and offered women a ride to international waters. There, on the organization’s boat, they could be counseled and examined by Dutch doctors, who could also prescribe them contraceptives and perform abortions. Several Spanish women set sail that day.

In an interview with Jezebel last December, Women on Waves founder Dr. Rebecca Gomperts talked about why her organization refuses to work within the United States, where abortion laws are becoming more and more restrictive. American women’s groups have more than enough resources to do what she’s doing, she said. “If women’s groups in the US really want to do things for women now, they have to start doing that. It’s not getting better. The laws in the US are getting worse and worse, access is getting worse and worse, you make sure that women have access another way other than clinics.”

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Gomperts added, “There really has to be some willingness from the abortion rights groups to do the kind of work we’re doing. It’s not necessary that women in the US should have to ask this from us.”

This is the Women on Waves crew:

Illustration for article titled Poland Has Abortion Drones. We Need Abortion Drones.
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Now picture them with a drone army. Next stop, Texas—who’s with me?


Contact the author at natasha@jezebel.com. Especially if you wanna start an abortion drone army with me.

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Images via Women on Waves

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DISCUSSION

mdyoganerd
Yoga Nerd, Maybe Dead

Follow up questions, mostly logistical: while this type of abortion is generally effective and safe, it tends to require some counseling. For one, the bleeding and cramping associated can be quite severe. How are users provided counseling and guidance? Also, what are users’ options in terms of access to follow-up care (like, an ultrasound to make sure all products of conception are expelled, etc)? Do patients fear legal retribution, and does that keep them from getting the follow up care they might require?