Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

‘Abortion drone’ to land at Narrow Water

Pro-Choice campaigners are set to stage what they have described as “an act of protest against the Eighth Amendment in the south of Ireland and the lack of abortion rights in the north” by flying a drone carrying abortion pills from Omeath to Narrow Water.

According to Rita Harrold from Rosa (for Reproductive rights, against Oppression, Sexism and Austerity), which is helping to coordinate the unique protest, the action is “an act of solidarity from women in the south where abortion is criminalised and women in the north where abortion is also criminalised and unfortunately there have recently been a number of prosecutions.”

The drone will be launched from Omeath tomorrow (Tuesday 21st June) and will and close to Narrow Water.

“We will be sending the drone over the border and bringing the pills into Northern Ireland to show women that they are still available and they are still safe,” said Rita.

A number of women, who are not pregnant, are expected to swallow the mifepristone and misoprostol tablets – – which can be taken up to nine weeks into a pregnancy and have been approved for use by the World Health Organisation since 2005.

“Obviously there have been prosecutions and the threat looms large but the women who will be taking the pills won’t be pregnant at the time,” Rita added.

“This is an act of protest against the Eighth Amendment in the south and the lack of abortion rights in the north.”

Several pro-choice groups, Alliance For Choice; Rosa; Labour Alternative and Women On Waves which staged a similar flight from Germany into Poland, have collaborated on the issue. They say that legislation permits the drone to fly abortion pills lawfully from one jurisdiction to the other.

A statement released ahead of the protest said,

“The ‘abortion drone’ will mark the different reality for Irish women to access safe abortion services compared to women in other European countries where abortion is legal.”

Meanwhile, Belfast-based pro-life group Precious Life have sought legal advice on the protest, in an attempt to stop the drone.

Bernadette Smyth from Precious Life said she would also be in contact with the PSNI to ensure that the pills are confiscated and “to ensure that they are not used to destroy the lives of unborn children.”

“These people are hell-bent on destroying lives but we will be doing everything in our power, legally, to protect lives,” she added.

The Pro-choice campaigners behind the stunt also plan to take their protest to the gates of Belfast High Court where an appeal against a ruling which found that the north’s abortion laws breached human rights legislation, is to be heard on Tuesday.

The maximum penalty for administering a drug to induce miscarriage under the Offences Against The Person Act 1861, is life imprisonment.

In the Republic, the offence of procuring an abortion carries a potential 14-year jail term.