Pill-carrying drone flies into abortion debate

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A DJI Phantom 3 will be used in the protest(Credit: Chris Blain/Gizmag)

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While drones often make the news for menacing aircraft these days, the unmanned aerial vehicles have also been used for more practical pursuits, like delivering medicine. An alliance of advocacy groups now plan to use that capacity of drones to stage a protest of Ireland and Northern Ireland's abortion laws.

On June 21 at 10.00 a.m. local time, a drone carrying the abortion drugs mifepristone and misoprostol will fly from Ireland to Northern Ireland to "mark the different reality for Irish women to access safe abortion services compared to women in other European countries where abortion is legal."

That quote comes from Women on Waves, one of the organizations involved in the protest. It's joined by the Alliance for Choice; Labour Alternative; Rosa; and the Abortion Rights Campaign.

"Drones are used to make aerial shots and for military purposes," Women on Waves spokesperson Rebecca Gomperts told Gizmag. "However they can also be used to deliver packages. The abortion drone will fly abortion pills and this way appropriate the drone for women's rights [...] Even if countries restrict access to abortion, women will obtain abortion pills by mail or by drone."

The drone will begin its flight at Cornamucklagh House at the R173 road in Ireland and will touch down near Narrow Water Castle in Northern Island(Credit: Women on Waves)

Gomperts said the group will be using a DJI Phantom 3 drone and will fly for 200 meters (about 218 yards). The plan is for the pills to be delivered to two volunteers at the moment, although Gomperts says more may be involved by the launch time on Tuesday.

The organization says that the goal of the flight is to call attention to the discrepancy between UN dictates that provide for access to abortions and abortion drugs, and the laws in Ireland and Northern Ireland that outlaw abortions except in extreme cases such as when a woman's life is endangered by the pregnancy.

Women on Waves points out that because the drone won't be used for commercial purposes, will stay within the sight of the person flying it and won't be journeying into controlled airspace, no authorization is required to fly it under UK or Irish law.

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