An unlikely team of volunteers smuggle abortion pills through Poland to Ukraine : Rough Translation One weekend. An amateur smuggling operation. A wartime mission. The story, in collaboration with Radiolab.

Ukraine: Under The Counter

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A doctor sees an essential medicine is needed in Ukraine and assembles a group of strangers to get it there. Oksana Drachkovska for NPR hide caption

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Oksana Drachkovska for NPR

A doctor sees an essential medicine is needed in Ukraine and assembles a group of strangers to get it there.

Oksana Drachkovska for NPR

In the weeks following the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, a young doctor in Germany read that abortion pills were urgently needed. She knew that the pills, mifepristone and misoprostol, are considered essential medications, and are legal in Ukraine. But getting the life-saving drugs into a country at war meant getting creative. So Vicki and her boyfriend Ari called on friends and strangers to pull off a high-stakes medical mission that unfolded in a legal gray zone.

Everyone involved has concealed their role in the operation. Until now.

From reporter Katz Lazlo, and in collaboration with Molly Webster of Radiolab, the story of how a simple plan turned into a complicated legal and logistical puzzle, requiring strangers to put enormous trust in one another.

After news broke about atrocities – including sexual violence – committed in occupied territories, this unlikely team came together to transport thousands of medical abortions through Poland, a country with some of the strictest abortion laws in Europe. The key people involved risked jail time, and their careers, to seize the moment and try to help.

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