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June 21, 2016

The World's Sex Life and Drones

THE ATMOSPHERE—Remember when drones were the coming thing in adult movie production? Jules Jordan used them several times for releases in 2013-14, and Rocco Siffredi Hard Academy (2016) employed several drone shots to capture "a huge cast in outdoor orgy action"—but what with local authorities attempting to crack down on unauthorized porn shoots, the aerial gadgets seem to have disappeared from the porn device tacklebox. But have no fear: Porn's loss is the rest of the world's gain. For instance, take rural sub-Saharan Africa, where women can now receive birth control pills and condoms, not to mention sex ed materials, by drone, thanks to several drone delivery projects now under way in the Third World. The United Nations Population Fund has a joint drone delivery project going on that it's co-funding with the Dutch government, and the number is growing by the week. "In late November of last year, an unmanned, automated machine with a wingspan of about 50 inches carried about 4.5 pounds of supplies like condoms and birth control pills, as well as life-saving drugs like oxytocin, which prevents hemorrhaging during childbirth, to parts of Ghana," wrote Sophia Cousins for National Public Radio. "Access to birth control, reproductive health information and other services for women of childbearing age is a massive problem in this region, where fewer than 20 percent of women use modern contraceptives." "The drone can cover large distances quickly and can take off and land without a runway," Cousins noted. "The ultimate goal is to get the drone to travel about 60 miles in an hour. Flown by a pilot who's stationed in a nearby health care facility, the drone unloads its delivery to a spot in the village designated for dropping off health products. A health care worker picks up the goods and takes them to the local clinic." Philip D. Harvey, founder of Adam & Eve and head of family planning organization DKTInternational, agreed that "It makes sense to me, especially for condoms," but noted that he hasn't tried drone deliveries yet: " I'll let you know if we try it. Quantities would have to be small and delivery coordinated so it would likely fit only in special situations. Still, you never know..." But the Third World isn't the only area to benefit from drone deliveries. Dr. Rebecca Gomperts—founder of Women on Waves, a non-profit coalition of doctors and activists in favor of women's access to abortion, and Women on Web, a site where women can get abortifacent pills mailed to them—is also getting into drones. "In recent years, Gomperts has also become famed for her drone work," noted Maya Oppenheim of the Independent (UK). "Most notable is the campaign in Poland—where abortion is severely restricted—in the summer of last year. "The drones are flying abortion pills from one country to the other," Gomperts explained. "Like the ship, it's using the different laws and jurisdictions to do that legally and by doing that it's trying to invent a new mode of delivery. This is not yet sustainable in the long run but these are test campaigns to see how it works out." "So far so good," Oppenheim concluded. "[T]he campaign in Poland was a success. The drone-delivered drugs were flown from the border of Germany safely into Poland where they were collected." And Poland isn't the only European destination for the pills. Gomperts' Women on Waves has teamed up with other pro-choice organizations like Alliance for Choice, Rosa, and Labour Alternative to fly drones from the Republic of Ireland, where abortion is legal but restricted, to its Catholic northern neighbor, Northern Ireland, where it's a felony. "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 criminalize abortion in both the north and south of Ireland except in very limited circumstances," said a Women on Waves press release. So while Americans may speculate about what drone-delivered pizza may taste like, or how quickly drone-delivered books ordered from Amazon will arrive, drones may wind up playing a more important part in the life of the world than is obvious from the feel-good stories played up in the American press.

 
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