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Drone Delivers Abortion Pills To Women In Northern Ireland

Photo: Ly Ngo
Yesterday, a super-group of pro-choice activists accomplished a landmark stunt in the fight for abortion rights in Ireland by flying abortion pills over the border from Southern Ireland to Northern Ireland.

Why? Well, based on a piece of legislation called the Offences Against the Person Act of 1861, women across Ireland are not allowed access to abortions. Northern Ireland is the only area in the whole of the UK where abortion is illegal, and the maximum sentence is life imprisonment.

In April this year, a girl from Belfast was prosecuted for taking abortion pills when she was 19. She was sentenced to 12 months in jail, reported the Guardian, leading protesters to take to the streets of Belfast in defiance.
Since the incident, Westminster have been put under increasing pressure to intervene with the anti-abortion legislation in the country. A government-sponsored appeal against a recent ruling found that the law, outlined above, is actually incompatible with human rights legislation. According to the Guardian, this means that, in short, not allowing rape victims or women with abnormal pregnancies the choice to abort contradicts their basic human rights.

Yesterday, pro-choice activists once again gathered in a police-controlled protest to rally support for the overturning of the law. The lobbyists held signs that read: "Abortion is healthcare: It should be free, safe and legal," report the Guardian.

The abortion pills stunt was part of the demonstrations; pro-choicers delivered the pills – Mifepristone and Misoprostol, which can be taken up to nine weeks into a pregnancy – across the border by drone.

The drone started its mission at Omeath in County Louth in the Republic, before landing close by in County Down, Northern Ireland. The protest was a collective effort from several pro-choice groups: Alliance for Choice, Rosa, Labour Alternative and Women On Waves.
Courtney Robinson aged 18, from Belfast, who received and took the tablets yesterday, told the Guardian: “We are here to say we are going to defy the law in helping women obtain these pills and we are going to work to make the law unworkable and stand in solidarity with all women who want to have an abortion and have the right to do so in Northern Ireland.”
Pressure is mounting for the government to tackle the laws head on. Following the case of the girl prosecuted for taking the pills in April, The Independent reported that Shadow Justice Minister Jo Stevens wrote a letter to Westminster’s human rights committee urging them to make this a priority:

“We believe that there are few more egregious breaches of human rights than the denial of vital healthcare, yet this is the situation for hundreds of thousands of women in Northern Ireland. These women have the right to expect their rights to be recognised and protected by the UK parliament and therefore we ask that you make this situation a priority for your committee.”

Police did not intervene with the delivery of the drones yesterday, according to the Guardian.