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21 Jun, 2016 22:58

Abortion by drone: Irish women launch high-tech protest against strict laws (VIDEO)

Abortion by drone: Irish women launch high-tech protest against strict laws (VIDEO)

Pro-choice activists in the Republic of Ireland harnessed a drone to deliver abortion pills to women across a river in Northern Ireland - a high-tech protest against two of the EU’s strictest pregnancy termination laws.

The UAV took off from Omeath in County Louth and landed in County Down at about 10 a.m. on Tuesday. Some of the women gathered took the Mifepristone and Misoprostol, although they didn’t say if any were pregnant.

The drone drop was organized by a number of pro-choice groups - Alliance for Choice; Rosa; Labour Alternative, the Abortion Rights Campaign, Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights and Women On Waves - as an “an all-island act of solidarity between women in the north and the south.”

“The reason we are doing this is to highlight that these 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,” Labour Alternative member Courtney Robinson said.

“As long as politicians in Stormont [Northern Ireland's parliament] and the Dáil [the Irish parliament] continue to ignore human rights, we will continue our campaign.”

Irish women are unable to get an abortion in both jurisdictions with a few exceptions such as when the mother’s life is at risk, even though it is legal in other UK countries.

Those in need have to travel to Scotland, England, Wales, or farther afield at great expense and emotional turmoil, which can be particularly traumatic for teenagers going in secret or victims of rape.

While there was a police presence at the event, none of the women were arrested and the pills were not confiscated. In Northern Ireland, violators of the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act can receive life in prison.

In the Republic, women face up to 14 years in prison.

In April, a Northern Irish woman was given a suspended sentence after she bought abortion pills online due to the fact she could not afford to travel to England for the procedure. She was 19 at the time.

The High Court in Belfast is currently hearing an appeal on a case that found it was a violation of human rights legislation to ban abortion in the case of rape or fatal fetal abnormality.

Ireland was recently the focus of a UN ruling that found its abortion laws to be in violation of women’s rights.

A #RepealTheEighth campaign in Ireland calls for a referendum to overturn the 1983 Eighth Amendment, which “acknowledges the right to life of the unborn, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother,” meaning a fetus has the same rights to life as its mother.

In May, three women in their late 60s and early 70s handed themselves at a police station in Northern Ireland for illegally purchasing abortion pills, in an effort to highlight the absurdity of the law.

“We’re angry that women are placed in this situation. That women who can afford to travel to England can have a legal abortion, but women who can’t afford to travel can only access nine week abortion pills for £60 [US$88]. We’re very angry about that. We’re very angry that women are being criminalized,” one of the elder activists, Diana King, explained.

The abortion pills delivered by the drone can be taken orally up to nine weeks into a pregnancy. They were prescribed by two doctors, the Telegraph reports.