This morning, June 21st, a drone carrying medical abortion pills was flown from the Republic of Ireland into Northern Ireland. For years we have argued that the abortion laws of the Republic and Northern Ireland are antiquated, immoral and dangerous. It is clear with the easy availability of safe medical abortion pills, internet access and now drone technology that these laws are also unenforceable.
Today’s action – described as an ‘all-Island act of solidarity’ clearly demonstrates that by land, sea and air, abortion pills are everywhere. According to Dr. Rebecca Gomperts from Women on Waves, which supported the action, stated: “Research by the world health organisation has proven that an abortion with pills can be done safely at home by women themselves till 10 weeks of pregnancy. The health impact is similar to a miscarriage. Restrictive abortion laws will not keep women from accessing abortion pills, by ship, by mail, through the internet, drone or RC speedboat!”
The action comes as both countries face the charge that their abortion laws are in contravention of women’s human rights. This week the high court in Belfast will consider the Attorney General’s appeal against a judge’s ruling that Northern Ireland’s abortion laws do not comply with the European Convention on Human Rights in cases of fatal foetal abnormality or sexual crime. Earlier this month a panel of experts from the United Nations Human Rights Committee ruled that the Republic of Ireland’s legal prohibition of abortion subjects women to “discrimination and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment”.
It is clear now that abortion pills know no borders. They cannot be blocked from reaching women. The question is how much longer we will have to stand by and watch women being criminalised and punished for using them.