NRL News

“Abortion Drone” delivers abortion pills to Poland

by | Aug 19, 2015

Taken as part of a “symbolic stunt” by women who were not pregnant

Editor’s note. My family will be on vacation through the end of next week. I will be posting an occasional new story, but for the most part we will be re-posting columns that ran over the last year. Many will be strictly educational while some will about remind us of notable victories this legislative cycle.

By Randall K. O’Bannon, Ph.D., NRL Director of Education & Research

abortiondroneAs promised, “Women on Waves,” the same folks who brought you the “abortion ship,” abortion hotlines where you can learn how to self-abort, and the “I need an abortion” website where you can order abortifacients, launched their “abortion drone.”

The launch occurred June 27. A small drone carried two packs of abortion pills from Frankfurt an den Oder across the Oder river border separating Germany and Poland. Contained were mifepristone (RU-486) and a prostaglandin (misoprostol) which were “delivered” to women in Slubice, where abortion laws are highly protective.

Two Polish women (who Agence France-Presse said were not really pregnant), took the pills and swallowed them as part of a “symbolic” stunt organized by Women on Waves to draw attention to (itself and) Poland’s abortion policies.

“It’s a symbolic operation designed to show that 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,” said Jula Gaweda, a spokesperson for Feminoteka, one of the local groups responsible for the event (AFP, 6/27/15).

Women on Waves is the main organizer responsible for this latest misuse of technology. They insist that these chemical abortifacients can be taken “without medical supervision” for pregnancies of less than nine weeks.

Whether this latest venture is merely another in a long line of publicity stunts or is actually supposed to eventually become some new delivery system will become obvious with time.

Two German policemen can be seen in the accompanying video confiscating the drone controllers and personal iPads of what appear to be the drone pilots.

However, apparently this did not occur before the drones reached their destination on the other side of the river. There was no word of any police activity at the landing site in Poland.

Women on Waves insisted that given the weight of the drone (about eleven pounds), the way it is being flown (not through commercial airspace), the fact that it is not being used for any commercial purposes, no authorization is required for the flight under Polish or German law. It also pointed out that a doctor had written legal prescription for the medications (though for what purpose they were ostensibly prescribed is unclear, given the admission that the Polish women taking the drugs were not pregnant).

Gomperts has been joined by local activists groups who are part of the campaign to overturn Poland’s abortion laws and policies. Her website identifies Cocia Basia, a “Berlin based abortion support group for Polish women,” Warsaw based Fundacij Feminoteka, the 8th of March women’s rights informal collective “Porozumienie kobiet 8 marca” and a group called “Berlin-Irish Pro-Choice Solidarity.”

Why Poland and who is next? According to The Telegraph (6/23/15), “Gomperts said Poland was chosen because of the lack of awareness around their abortion laws, but if the mission is a success, it could also be deployed to Ireland, where women can only have abortions if their lives are at serious risk.”


As NRL News has reported previously, Women on Waves is the group founded by former Greenpeace activist Rebecca Gomperts in 1999. Their first big public splash was when Gomperts anchored her “abortion ship” in international waters just off the coast of Ireland 2001. They offered to ferry women to the boat where they could have abortions using the combination of mifepristone and misoprostol.

From there the boat went on to Poland, Portugal, Spain, Ecuador, Morocco, wherever Gomperts and her group wanted to draw media attention to countries where abortions were not allowed and unborn children were legally protected.

It isn’t clear whether Women on Waves ever did many, if any, actual abortions on the abortion ship, but they were successful in drumming up massive publicity, to the point where they were the subject of an award-winning documentary “Vessel” produced in 2014.

Gomperts’s group switched tactics in 2009, turning to launching abortion “hotlines” in Chile, Argentina, Peru, Pakistan, Venezuela, Morocco, Bangladesh, Kenya, Indonesia, Malawi, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Poland, and Uruguay. Women who call these hotlines are told how to obtain misoprostol, already available in many countries as an anti-ulcer drug, and use the drug to abort their babies.

For a number of years, one of Women on Waves related groups, Women on Web, has run the “I need an abortion” website where women from countries where abortion is illegal can answer a series of medical questions that are supposed to amount to a consultation (though it doesn’t really seem matter what answer you give – the website will let you keep going) and be referred to a “licensed doctor” who will “provide you with abortion pills” that will be shipped to your address.

You are asked to make a “donation” of between 70-90 euros at the end of the consultation before the pills are shipped, and you are asked to electronically certify that you will not hold them responsible if you have any problems (you are advised to go to the nearest hospital with a trusted friend if you do, but they tell you that “You do not have to tell the medical staff that you tried to induce an abortion; you can tell them that you had a spontaneous miscarriage.”)

Beyond being political theatre and an attention grabbing ploy, Gomperts’ move is simply an extension of the abortion industry’s efforts to reduce physician involvement and make abortion less dependent on the dwindling supply of willing abortionists. Chemical abortions were the first move, reducing the need for qualified surgeons, then there were the web-cam abortions where a woman’s only contact with the abortionist was through a computer terminal.

At least with the web-cams, she had to travel to some store front clinic and meet with someone who could at a minimum check her blood pressure and take her vitals. Now, however, if the new technology takes off, even that minimal encounter could become a thing of the past. Now, it appears, all she has to do is order her pills and wait for a drone to fly the package to her front door.

Even the most minimal, sensible caution has been thrown to the wind for the sake of the cause.

Categories: Abortion