Battle Brewing Over Dutch Drones Scheduled to Drop Abortion Drugs in Poland

The "abortion drones" are scheduled to launch from Germany this Friday and deliver prohibited pills to Poland, where abortion remains mostly illegal.


Joanna Michnicka/Federation for Women and Family Planning

The Dutch activist group Women on Waves (WOW) is planning to use drones to deliver abortion-inducing drugs to the women of Poland, where abortion is almost entirely banned. The "abortion drones" are scheduled to launch from Frankfurt, Germany, this Saturday and carry the medication to Slubice, Poland, where Polish women's groups will be waiting to receive and distribute the pills. 

Polish law prohibits abortion except in cases of rape or incest, severe fetal malformation, or threats to a pregnant woman's life. Rebecca Gomperts, founder of the Netherlands-based WOW, told The Guardian

We want to create awareness about women's right to a safe abortion. The drone is another way to use the different laws in different countries in order to draw attention to the social injustice that women who are living in places where abortion is illegal are subject to.

In Poland, even women who could have an abortion under Polish law are often denied it because Catholic hospitals don't help them, even if their life is in danger. Rich people can go to Germany or the UK to have abortions, but it's the women who don't have the means or access to information who are suffering.

Because the drones won't be flying through controlled airspace, weigh less than 11 pounds, and are not for commercial purposes, their launch does not require permission from either the Polish or German governments, according to WOW.

Still, that doesn't mean the group and its allies (including German's women's groups Ciocia Basia and the Feminoteka Foundation) expect everything to go smoothly. Anti-abortion groups have pledged to shoot down the drones, which is why WOW has yet to announce the exact location for the Friday drop. However, "it's not easy to shoot down a drone and fortunately guns are not that easy to get in Europe," Gromperts pointed out. 

WOW currently provides mail-order abortion medication to women in many countries around the world, but this is its first drone-delivery mission of the drugs. If successful, the group plans to try similarly in other European countries with aggressive abortion restrictions, such as Ireland and Malta.