by Steven Ertelt
August 25, 2004
Lisbon, Portugal (LifeNews.com) — Operators of the Dutch abortion ship hope to lure women to international waters to give them with dangerous RU 486 abortion pills and information on birth control. But, Portuguese officials say they will make sure that the boat doesn’t run afoul of the law.
The converted tugboat is scheduled to arrive in Portugal from the Netherlands over the weekend and will stay there two weeks in an effort to bring abortion to a predominantly Catholic country where it is illegal.
A member of the Portuguese defense ministry told the Lusa news agency that Portuguese officials have "been following since the first minutes the alleged intention of the so-called abortion boat to pass through Portuguese waters and dock at a national port."
"The state does not react to publicity stunts but it will act promptly, adequately and proportionately, if and when it has to act, to ensure the respect of national sovereignty and international maritime rights," the unnamed official told Lusa.
Four Portuguese pro-abortion groups invited Woman on Waves, the group that operates the ship, to sail to Portugal. They say the boat has permission to dock at several ports in the western European country.
Rebecca Gomparts, director of WoW, told daily Portuguese newspaper Diario de Noticias that there is no reason to prevent the abortion ship from docking.
"There is no reason to impede our entry in the country. The ship, by itself, does not cause disturbances. If they exist they will come from outside," she said.
Because of a restriction placed on the boat by the Dutch government, staff cannot perform surgical abortions outside of a 16 mile radius of Amsterdam to ensure that women who are injured by a botched abortion can be hospitalized quickly.
However, pro-life advocates say the distribution of the mifepristone abortion drug can be just as dangerous. Women in California and Sweden have died recently as a result of the drug.
"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."
The makers of the drug and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have said that RU 486 can be fatal if women with ectopic pregnancies use it. At least two women have died as a result of complications associated with use of the abortion drug an ectopic pregnancy.
Before using the drug, women are advised to have an ultrasound to ensure the baby is developing normally.
There is no word on whether staff on the abortion boat will offer women ultrasounds prior to dispensing the abortion drug.