Pro-choice activists fly pills to the North using ‘Abortion drone’
Pro-choice activists have successfully flown abortion pills into Northern Ireland using a drone in an act of protest against strict laws around terminations that are in place on both sides of the border. Pills were also despatched to the landing site by speedboat by Women on Waves, a group that delivers abortion pills to countries where they are illegal.
Two of the pro-choice activists then swallowed the pills in front of onlookers. Eighteen year old activist Courtney Robinson from Belfast was one of the women who took the tablets. She said the stunt was intended to convey the message that “we are going to defy the law in helping women obtain these pills and we are going to work to make the law unworkable and stand in solidarity with all women who want to have an abortion and have the right to do so in Northern Ireland.”
The event was organised by a collaboration of pro-choice groups, Alliance For Choice; Rosa; Labour Alternative and Women On Waves, which staged a similar flight from Germany into Poland.
The drone flight began on Tuesday last (21st June) at Omeath in County Louth and landed near Narrow Water Castle shortly after 10am.
Speaking at the landing site at Narrow Castle, Ms Robinson, a member of the Labour Alternative, said the group wished to highlight the pills are available to women who are not able to travel outside of Northern Ireland for an abortion.
“I have no concerns. I know the pills are safe,” she said
“As long as politicians in Stormont and the Dail continue to ignore human rights we will continue our campaign.”
Lucy Simpson, from Belfast, who also took tablets, called for urgent legal reform on the issue said legal reform describing current laws as “archaic.”
“We are governed in Northern Ireland by an Act which is dated 1861, which is in the dark ages, it’s like when dinosaurs were on earth. We think it should be changed radically and we can’t really wait any longer,” she said.
“Thousands of women suffer every year in Northern Ireland and the Republic having to travel abroad for abortions and go through very traumatic times.
“We feel now is the time to change legislation.”
Traffic was stopped on the main road to Narrow Water Castle while the drone was in the air and, although the Police attended the scene, no action was taken to confiscate the medication, which had been prescribed by a doctor.
The groups said no laws had been broken, and added, “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.”
The maximum penalty in Northern Ireland for the crime of administering a drug to induce miscarriage under the Offences Against The Person Act 1861, is life imprisonment, while in the Republic, the offence of procuring an abortion carries a potential 14-year jail term.
In April, a 21-year-old woman was prosecuted for performing an abortion on herself at home in Belfast two years ago, after her housemates informed the police they had found foetal remains in a bin.
A second woman is also due to stand trial later this month charged with helping her daughter to have an abortion.
In February this year, Stormont voted to keep the ban against abortions despite a High Court ruling in November, which found the total ban, including for rape victims and cases where the foetus has fatal abnormality, meant the UK was failing to uphold Northern Irish women’s human rights.
Despite pro-life organisations vowing to do all in their power to stop the drone, there was no protest from the group at Narrow Water.