EVENT PASSED: Abortion drone flying to Northern Ireland 21 June 2016, protest at 2.30pm in Belfast

On Tuesday 21 June, 2016 at 10am the abortion drone will fly abortion pills from Ireland to Northern Ireland at Narrow Water. The Abortion Drone is a collaboration between Alliance for Choice; Rosa; Labour Alternative and Women on Waves.

It is an all-island act of solidarity between women in the north and the south to highlight the violation of human rights caused by the existing laws that criminalise abortion in both the north and south of Ireland except in very limited circumstances.

The Abortion drone will mark the different reality for Irish women to access safe abortion services compared to women in other European countries where abortion is legal.

The different laws in both countries allow for a drone to fly abortion pills lawfully from the South to the North. The drone will start its journey at 10.00 AM near Cornamucklagh House at the R173 road in Ireland.

After the abortion drone flight, there will be a protest in front of the Court of Appeal in Belfast at 2.30 pm when the appeal regarding the decision by the High Court that Northern Ireland’s abortion law breaches the European Convention on Human Rights will be heard.

Background information

Abortion reality in Ireland

In Ireland, section 22.1 of the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Act 2013 states that ‘it shall be an offence to intentionally destroy unborn human life’ except in circumstances where, with regard to the mother, there is: A risk of loss of life from physical illness; risk of loss of life from physical illness in case of emergency; or risk of loss of life from risk of suicide.

This Act stems from the 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution. Thousands of women travel abroad to obtain an abortion. Given that Section 59 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861 was repealed as a result of the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Act 2013 and subsequently not replaced, it is not illegal to supply or procure authorised medication.

On June 9 th, The UN Committee found Ireland’s abortion laws violates a woman’s basic human rights and called on Ireland to “amend its law on voluntary termination of pregnancy, including if necessary its Constitution, to ensure compliance with the Covenant, including effective, timely and accessible procedures for pregnancy termination in Ireland, and take measures to ensure that health-care providers are in a position to supply full information on safe abortion services without fearing being subjected to criminal sanctions.” However the Irish government continues to refuses to take action.

Abortion reality in Northern Ireland

The UK’s Abortion Act 1967 does not extend to Northern Ireland and the north’s abortion laws are still governed by sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act.  

It is unlawful to perform an abortion in Northern Ireland except in very limited circumstances, namely: to preserve the life of the woman; or, a risk of real and serious adverse effect on the woman’s physical or mental health, which is either long term or permanent, as established by case law.

The Belfast High Court ruled that laws governing abortion in Northern Ireland are in breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Still, women face life imprisonment for a health service freely provided on the NHS elsewhere in the UK and recently a young women was given a three-month sentence suspended for two years for doing her own abortion with pills and another court case is pending. However UK’s laws concerning e-health do apply in Northern Ireland.

The drone will contain a legal electronic prescription from EU registered doctor with the medicines. The person receiving the drone is importing the medicines mifepristone and misoprostol for personal use as is allowed under UK legislation. Both Misoprostol and Mifepristone are authorised medications in the UK.

Abortion pills

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 almost all other European countries. Scientific research by the World health Organisation 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 handle a miscarriage without additional medical supervision.

For pregnancies of up to 9 weeks (63 days) a medical abortion is done: 1-    A woman swallows 1 tablet of 200 mg Mifepristone 2-    24 hours later the woman  can put 4 tablets (800 μg) of misoprostol under the tongue (sublingual).

Human right to safe abortion and abortion pills

General comment No. 22 (2016) on the right to sexual and reproductive health (article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) states that, “Essential medicines should also be available, including a wide range of contraceptive methods, such as condoms and emergency contraception, medicines for abortion and for post-abortion care, and medicines, including generic medicines, for the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections and HIV.”

Abortion drone

As the Abortion drone is not used for any commercial purposes, will stay within the sight of the person flying it and does not fly in controlled airspace, no authorization is required under UK or Irish law.

For more information:Alliance for Choice

Spokes person:  Emma Campbell: +447894063965 http://www.alliance4choice.com/ Labour Alternative Spokes person: Courtney Robinson: +44- 7470047524 https://www.facebook.com/LabourAlternative/ Rosa Spokes person:  Rita: +353872995484 rosacampaign2013@gmail.com www.rosa.ie Women on Waves     www.womenonwaves.org +31624195506 +31652052561 or info@womenonwaves.org

Jessica Lloyd - Vulvovaginal Specialist Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)