Abortion Ship Docks in Poland After Initially Prevented

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 22, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC


Abortion Ship Docks in Poland After Initially Prevented

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
June 22, 2003

Wladyslawowo, Poland (LifeNews.com) — After initially being prevented from docking in Poland, the Dutch-based abortion ship arrived in the eastern European country on Sunday and was greeted by a gathering of protesters.

Dozens of people, many shouting "murderers” and waving Polish
flags, met the Langenort as it pulled into the Baltic Sea port of

The Langenort, a converted tugboat, has a makeshift operating room where abortions are performed and pro-life groups say to perform abortions there is dangerous to women. Although crew members don’t intend to perform surgical abortions on this trip, they declined to say whether they intended to make the dangerous abortion drug mifepristone (formerly RU 486) available to Polish residents who come aboard the boat and sail to international waters.

Local news agency PAP quoted harbormaster Kazimierz Udro as
saying the ship had arrived without permission and could be fined
and ordered to leave, but its crew denied the report.

"We have had no official notification of that, so I don’t think
it’s true,” said Rebecca Gomperts, head of the group Women on
Waves, adding that the ship had been moved to another dock less
accessible to the public.

On Saturday, Poland refused to let the abortion ship dock into
this north port. This ship, which performed abortions in
international waters to avoid the pro-life laws of nearby
countries, was forced to anchor offshore after being turned away.
Rebecca Gomperts, director of the pro-abortion group Women on
Waves that sponsors the ship, said they were told the port was
closed due to bad weather. A storm plagued the Baltic Sea late
Friday. But while the ship was waiting offshore at least one
other ship sailed out, they said.

"The law is being broken, this Dutch ship cannot enter the port,
although it has the right to — this shows that Polish democracy
is still very immature," Polish pro-abortion activist Wanda
Nowicka told a news conference in Wladyslawowo after the ship was prohibited from entering.

Outside the news conference about 50 protesters pelted
participants with eggs as they entered.

"We will not allow the murder of unborn children in Poland," news
agency PAP quoted Robert Strak, a member of the Polish
parliament, as saying. "We will follow this ship and block it. No
one should have any illusions that this ship will enter."

Poland is one of the few European countries where abortion is
more restricted and Polish Pope John Paul II, head of the world’s
billion Catholics and a staunch opponent of abortion, is widely regarded as the country’s greatest moral authority. "We must not
let criminals enter our territorial waters and perform crimes on
our children,” the Archbishop of Gdansk, Tadeusz Goclowski, said
during a Mass on Thursday.

Poland’s abortion laws have changed several times since the fall
of communism in 1989, reflecting power shifts between right-wing
governments and the post-communist left, which has attempt to
make abortion more avaiolable.

Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski said the ship’s arrival
raised "problems of a legal and moral nature.”

Currently abortion is allowed only if pregnancy is a threat to a
woman’s health, if the fetus is damaged or after rape. Doctors
face up to three years in jail for illegal abortions.

Women on Waves upset pro-life leaders in Ireland in 2001 when its
abortion ship docked in the center of Dublin, but Gomperts said
the reaction was very different, with Irish police and port
officials providing more support than their Polish counterparts.

The Polish League of Families had asked prosecutors to ban the
boat from mooring anywhere in Poland, arrest its crew members for
”instigating crime” and impound the vessel.