by Steven Ertelt
September 1, 2004
Lisbon, Portugal (LifeNews.com) — The Portuguese government is not backing down from a decision over the weekend to use its navy to prevent the Dutch abortion boat from docking at a harbor in the northern part of the European country.
Defense Minister Paulo Portas on Tuesday told reporters, "From our point of view the issue is closed."
"A decision has been taken which affirms Portugal’s sovereignty and laws in Portuguese waters before what was an obvious challenge to Portuguese laws," he added. "The law must be respected."
Portuguese groups that back abortion plan to submit a petition today to Prime Minister Pedro Santana Lopes urging the government to change its position.
However, Francisco Coelho da Rocha, director of the Associacao Portuguesa Maternidade e Vida pro-life group in Portugal, submitted a competing petition to Portuguese Minister of Defense Paulo Portas asking him to uphold Portugal law and prevent the abortion ship from docking.
Women on Waves, the pro-abortion group that sponsors the abortion boat, had promised to remain in international waters just outside of Portugal, after being denied permission to dock on Saturday. Then, late in the day on Sunday, the boat headed for port.
According to WoW, "after receiving no response from the harbor authorities to repeated requests for permission to enter," the Dutch abortion boat headed for the Portuguese coast.
"Within minutes" Portuguese naval vessels arrived on scene. They told the boat’s captain to stop sailing toward Portugal.
A spokesperson for the Portuguese Defense Ministry told the French Press Agency that two Portuguese naval vessels will continue to monitor the abortion ship to ensure that the Dutch boat complies with the law.
Women on Waves plans to 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 while it remains in international waters.
Related web sites:
Maternidade e Vida – https://www.maternidadevida.org