Dutch Abortion Ship Will File Lawsuit Against Ban on International Travel

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 23, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Dutch Abortion Ship Will File Lawsuit Against Ban on International Travel

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
July 23, 2004

Amsterdam, Netherlands (LifeNews.com) — Operators of the Dutch abortion ship intend to sue to overturn a restriction placed upon it by the Netherlands’ government prohibiting it from traveling to international waters outside other countries to perform abortions.

Earlier this month, the European nation told the ship’s backers that they cannot travel further than a 16 mile radius outside of Amsterdam. That would make the ship close enough to a local hospital to take women to in case of a botched abortion.

A representative of the Women on Waves group that manages the ship says the organization will take the Dutch government to court within weeks to challenge the restrictions.

"The state secretary has basically said we cannot work abroad anymore and this, of course, defeats the object of our campaign," Rebecca Gomperts, the group’s founder, told Reuters.

"We are appealing and we want to go to court within a couple of weeks," Gomperts said.

Gomperts says, despite the long distance from shore, staff aboard the ship could communicate with hospitals via Internet or satellite phones, if necessary, after a woman is injured by an abortion gone awry.

The distance restriction was attached to a grant the Dutch government gave the abortion ship to perform first-trimester abortions.

Last month, a Dutch court ruled that the country’s government couldn’t prohibit abortions from being performed on board the ship.

The intent of the abortion boat, a converted tugboat called the Langenort, is to travel outside of coastal countries where abortion is illegal. The ship caused an uproar when it visited Ireland in 2001 and Poland in 2003.

Although no abortions were performed when the ship visited Ireland, the boat took three groups of women to sea just outside of Poland. Some were given the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug while others were given contraception and information on sexual reproduction.

Laura Echevarria, a National Right to Life spokeswoman, previously told LifeNews.com, "We think it’s terrible that they are using international waters to promote abortion and to violate the sovereignty of nations that oppose abortion."

Pro-life advocates are also concerned that women’s lives were put at stake by the distribution of dangerous abortion drugs given to the more than fifteen women aboard the abortion boat.

"RU 486 has been shown both in studies and anecdotally to be harmful and dangerous to women," Echevarria said. "We think it is shameful that women continue to be exploited for political gains."