The Malta Independent 11 August 2022, Thursday

'Women on Waves' denies plans to fly abortion drones over Malta, could possibly visit by boat

Helena Grech Monday, 23 May 2016, 15:00 Last update: about 7 years ago

Pro-choice group ‘Women on Waves’ has denied that it will be flying drones over Malta which drop abortion medication, as it did recently in Poland, but did not exclude visiting Malta on their infamous boat.

Women on Waves appropriately made waves after they flew ‘abortion drones’ from the border of Germany over Roman Catholic Poland, dropping abortion medication. The group considered it a success after it was found that two Polish woman had ingested the abortion pills.

“Just a few months ago the human rights committee [United Nations] had stated that making abortion illegal is a violation of women’s human rights, so Malta is violating human rights as well. They should start changing their laws to be in line with other European countries and legalise abortion,” said Dr Rebecca Gomperts, founder and director of Women on Waves.

A United Nations Committee on Human Rights ruled that in the case of a Peruvian women who was denied an abortion even though her child was sure to die within days of being born, her human rights were not respected and ordered the hospital in question to compensate her. This was a landmark case which “affirmed” the UN’s position that abortion is a human right, according to The Huffington Post.

The Amsterdam-based group describes itself on its online platform as:

“Women on Waves aims to prevent unsafe abortions and empower women to exercise their human rights to physical and mental autonomy. We trust that women can do a medical abortion themselves and make sure that women have access to medical abortion and information through innovative strategies. But ultimately it is about giving women the tools to resist repressive cultures and laws. Not every woman has the possibility to be a public activist but there are things we can all do ourselves.”

Medical abortions refer to ingesting medication that can induce abortion. This differs to surgical abortion, which tends to be done later at a more developed stage and involves an invasive procedure.

In Malta, if found guilty of having an abortion, women could face a three-year prison sentence, while carrying out abortions can land a person four years in jail, and a doctor could have his licence to practice medicine removed.

Dr Gomperts revealed that Women on Waves receives around 65 e-mails per year from Maltese women asking for assistance on unwanted pregnancies.

An article published in the Christian Post said that Women on Waves will be targeting Ireland and Malta next; however Dr Gomperts has denied this.

Asked why Malta will not see ‘abortion drones’ flying over its airspace, she said that “Malta is far away” and the drones do not have the reach to be sent from Sicily or Italy to Malta. She stressed however that the group does not exclude visiting the island again by sea. She also said that the group will continue to fly their drones.

“Basically Women on Waves always look for innovative ways to get abortion pills to women in need. We use the ship, the WOW online project; the drone is another tactic we are using to bring the medication to women,” she said.

Back in 2007, Dr Gomperts came to Malta and held a press conference at Castille. Her visit was met with opposition by a pro-life group called ‘gift of life,’ together with other conservative sections of society.

Many media reports had emerged at the time stating that Dr Gomperts’ pro-choice group would be visiting Malta by ship to provide women with medical abortions and counselling.

They would have remained in international waters in order to provide this service – however it was anticipated that due to their licensing requirements, which needed a regional hospital agreement, this could be an obstacle.

It was largely believed that no hospital in Malta or Gozo would agree to this; however it was reported that such an agreement with a Sicilian hospital could allow them to provide abortive services in international waters.

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