Drones Being Used To Distribute Meds In Poland Due To Restrictive Reproductive Laws

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Yes folks, it’s come to this.

When you think of drones, you think of them being used for military purposes and some not-so-great uses. But a group of women’s rights activists have come up with a genius way to help women in Poland get access to some crucial medication that they cannot get from medical centers in their own country.

Abortion has been illegal in Poland, a staunch Roman Catholic country, since 1993 but Women on Waves, an advocacy group out of The Netherlands, found a loophole which allows them to legally distribute medication to women who need it and don’t have the luxury of being able to leave the country and travel to one where they can legally get an abortion.

The medication can be distributed by an unmanned aircraft, which founder Rebecca Gomperts is using as an excuse to deliver abortion pills. She said under current Polish laws, if you carry medical abortion pills across the border or in suitcase you could be prosecuted, so the drone is the solution to a problem they have been trying to solve for a while.

“I think it’s extremely important because within Europe there’s so much inequality and difference in how women’s rights are being respected. We can’t stop pointing out the lack of safe access to abortion and medical abortion pills. It’s a violation of women’s rights. We have to make every effort to make sure they get that access,” she told the Independent.

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Although there are laws which allow for abortions where there are great health risks or the mother’s life is in danger, even then providers are extremely reluctant or willing to provide a service that can often be a matter of life or death for some women.

It is also one of the few place in Europe where women can only get an abortion if proof of incest or rape can be provided.

The medicines used for a medical abortion, mifepristone and misoprostol, have been on the list of essential medicines of the WHO since 2005 and are available in Germany and almost all other European countries. However this medicine is still not registered in Poland, reports Women on Waves in a statement about the drop which took place on June 27.

Scientific research by the World health Organization has shown that medical abortion can easily be done by women themselves at home without supervision by health professionals. A medical abortion has the same health impact as a spontaneous miscarriage.  Usually women themselves without additional medical supervision handle a miscarriage.

Since the drone won’t be flying through controlled air space and weighs less than 5 kg, it does not require authorization from the Polish or the German government, reports Time magazine.

According to the World Health organization ‘In countries where induced abortion is legally highly restricted and/or unavailable, safe abortion has frequently become the privilege of the rich, while poor women have little choice but to resort to unsafe providers, causing deaths and morbidities that become the social and financial responsibility of the public health system’ and ‘Laws and policies on abortion should protect women’s health and their human rights. Regulatory, policy and programmatic barriers that hinder access to and timely provision of safe abortion care should be removed’,” explains the Women on Waves website.

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They are not alone in this campaign. Cocia Basia, a Berlin based abortion support group for Polish women; Feminteka Foundation from Warsaw, the 8 th of March women’s rights informal collective “Porozumienie kobiet 8 marca”, Berlin-Irish Pro Choice Solidarity, Codziennik Feministyczny and the Political group Twoj Ruch worked with Women on Waves to help carry out this unique stunt.

The group states a lack of appropriate sexual education and accessible contraceptive services contributes to a high number of unsafe abortions being carried out which can be more traumatic and consequential for a woman’s health long term than choosing a safe and regulated method. Sterilization is also prohibited in Poland.

Poland isn’t the only country in the world where restrictive and outdated laws are harming communities of women more than some governments think abortions will. In Paraguay a 10 year old girl who was raped by her stepfather was not allowed to get an abortion because of the country’s strict laws against it. Her story went viral, as did a campaign out of Chile using dark humor as a way to get the point across that Chile’s restrictive abortion laws are hurting women.

The campaign was a series of pregnant women showing other women how to “accidentally” cause a miscarriage by walking out into a busy street and getting hit by a car, or “falling” down the stairs. In Chile abortion is illegal but a miscarriage is not, so their message is if that is the only way they can have an abortion, then that is what they will do. It’s disheartening and depressing that it has come to this, women’s voices and needs being drowned out by government and religious leaders who band together to keep their own consciences clean, while ignoring the importance of the individual women’s needs.

Let’s get real about this issue for one second, abortion is not a black and white issue, and everyone has an opinion, whether it be motivated by religion, fear, propaganda, the media, science, etc. But in our opinion this is a moral issue that every woman should be allowed to decide on for herself, not have the government or religious institutions decide that for her.

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If this were a male issue, we’d be willing to bet that this type of medication would be available from a vending machine.

It is the same type of battle women face even in the US where increasingly restrictive abortion laws being enforced across the country are forcing women to either spend money they don’t have traveling to a state which allows safe and legal procedures and medication, or have no choice whatsoever in the matter because of their financial status.

Rebecca Gomperts from Women on Waves, who was the subject of an incredible documentary from 2014 called ‘Vessel’ focused on her activism, says it is awful that in 2015 we are still fighting for women to be able to make their own reproductive decisions.

“It’s a new social injustice because women with money can easily travel to Germany or Netherlands or any other country, or pay a doctor the two or three thousand euros an abortion cost. It’s women without financial means that are bearing the consequences of the restrictive laws,” she said.

“The campaign is a way to mark the border in Europe in the reality of women’s rights and women’s access to safe abortion.”

Vice media did a feature on Rebecca’s activist work around Europe where she told them with the way the US is going, they are going to have to face up to some grave consequences.

“They will have to face the consequences of that at some point, when women start dying. And it’s going to happen. It hasn’t happened yet, perhaps, but it’s going to happen because women are desperate,” she said.

We know it is a controversial issue, but the more women’s rights groups are willing to create solutions to restrictive problems like this an raise their voices with accurate data, the more we as a society can learn to respect a woman’s right to choose, not the state’s decision to choose on her behalf.

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One Comment

  1. Pingback: Poland's Abortion Law & South America's Femicide Protests Show The Demand For Gender Equality - GirlTalkHQ

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