by Steven Ertelt
August 29, 2004
Lisbon, Portugal (LifeNews.com) — Operators of the Dutch abortion boat had to keep their vessel at sea on Saturday when Portuguese officials prevented the ship from sailing into the western European country’s port. However, abortion activists said the decision was illegal and they looking for a way to get Portuguese women on board to hand out abortion pills.
"It’s a question of legality and morality," Secretary of State for Sea Affairs Nuno Fernandes Thomaz told Portuguese news agency Lusa.
"Using the abortion pill is prohibited in Portugal. If they plan to administer it, that means they will bring it (on board)," Thomaz said. "For this reason (the boat) should stay in international waters."
The pro-abortion group Women on Waves operates the ship, called the Borndeip, which previously traveled to Ireland and Poland. They have already declared they will take the country to court for preventing it from docking in the northern port of Figueira da Foz.
"We are definitely going to court," Rebecca Gomperts, director of the group, told a news conference.
"We came here to respect Portuguese law but we are treated like terrorists who threatened the security of the country," Gomperts complained.
Gomperts’ group had planned to stay in Portugal for six weeks. The boat will now head to Lisbon and anchor just outside of Portugal’s waters.
She declined to tell members of the media, but hinted that boats from abortion supporters may be used to transport women from Portugal to the abortion ship.
Pro-abortion groups in Portugal say there was no reason to deny the ship entry into a local harbor since it is a vessel from another European Union country with its paper’s in order.
The goal of operators of the abortion ship is to recruit women from countries where abortion is illegal to board the ship and take them to international waters. Once there, the ship’s Dutch home laws apply and abortions are then legal.
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.