by Steven Ertelt
August 18, 2004
Amsterdam, Netherlands (LifeNews.com) — A Dutch court on Wednesday upheld a governmental decision requiring the "abortion ship" Langenort, a converted tugboat, to stay within a 16 mile radius outside of Amsterdam. Operators of the Langenort want to resume travels to countries where abortion is illegal to perform abortions in international waters.
The lawsuit filed by Women on Waves against the distance restriction continues, but the court order on Wednesday puts the brakes on a planned trip later this month.
The abortion advocacy group sought temporary permission to make a trip.
Earlier this year, Dutch health minister Clemence Ross 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.
The court sided with Ross and said that it was important for the boat to have a doctor on hand in case complications result from a failed abortion.
The distance restriction was attached to a grant the Dutch government gave the abortion ship to perform first-trimester abortions.
In June, a Dutch court ruled that the country’s government couldn’t prohibit abortions from being performed on board the ship.
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.
Polish authorities have been investigating to determine if the boat violated any laws. Operators of the abortion ship were fine when they disobeyed a local port director’s orders not to dock.
Pro-life advocates are 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," Laura Echevarria, a National Right to Life spokeswoman told LifeNews.com. "We think it is shameful that women continue to be exploited for political gains."