Slubice, Poland (CBS DC) — Dutch abortion-rights activists flew the world’s first “abortion drone” from Germany and into Poland to deliver pills to two women across the Oder River and highlight the country’s highly restrictive pregnancy termination laws.
The “abortion drone” left Frankfurt, Germany, and flew into Slubice, Poland, on Saturday morning in a project launched by the group Women on Waves, BBC News reports. Criminal charges were pressed although German police failed in their attempt to block the flight of the unmanned aerial vehicles making the delivery. Two Polish women successfully took the pills dropped off by the drone, which are used to induce a miscarriage in the early stages of pregnancy.
“After the drones left, the German police tried to intervene but the drone pilots were able to safely land the drones at the Polish side,” Women on Waves said in an online statement. The pills delivered to the two Polish women were prescribed by a doctor.
Women on Waves previously sent abortion boats to countries with similarly strict pregnancy laws including Spain, Portugal, and Ireland, prompting protests from European anti-abortion groups.
Following pressure from the Catholic Church, abortions were outlawed in Poland in 1993. Abortion is only permitted in cases of rape, incest, irreversible fetal malformation or if the mother’s life is at risk.
Women on Waves said German police have pressed criminal charges, but such legal action is unclear given internal borders have been abolished as part of the 26-country zone of Schengen States.
“The German police confiscated the drone controllers and personal iPads,” the Women on Waves statement reads. “They pressed criminal charges but it is totally unclear on what grounds. The medicines were provided on prescription by a doctor and both Poland and Germany are part of Schengen.”
The conservative Catholic publication Nasz Dziennik denounced the group’s use of a “drone of death.”
“During the Nazi occupation Germany proposed destroying Poland by promoting abortion and contraception,” the newspaper reportedly wrote, BBC News reports.
But Women on Waves insists that Poland’s restrictive laws push women into back-alley abortions, even when women legally entitled to end their pregnancies are unable to do so under their medical coverage.
“We are looking for ways to make sure that women have access to safe abortions and information,” Rebecca Gomperts, director of Women on Waves, tells Newsweek. “Of course it doesn’t solve the problem. The problem is that women should have access to these essential medicines locally, in their own country.”
In the U.S., drones and other unmanned aircraft systems (UAS’s) have been the subject of several airspace restrictions from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA allows recreational drone use under 55lbs as long as they are kept a safe distance from heavily populated or trafficked areas such as athletic stadiums, air shows and commercial airports.