Abortion Boat That Targeted Women in Europe, South America Won’t Sail Again
by Steven Ertelt
July 24, 2009
Amsterdam, Netherlands (LifeNews.com) — The Netherlands-based abortion boat that targeted nations in Europe and South America won’t sail again thanks to changes in law in Holland. The boat was meant to be a way for abortions to be done in international waters outside the reach of nations with pro-life laws protecting women and children.
Although surgical abortions were not done on the converted tugboat and its replacement, a sailboat, in recent years, its staff did promote the dangerous abortion drug.
Rebecca Gomperts founded the pro-abortion group, Women on Waves, that run the abortion boat and thought she would eventually preside over a fleet of ships registered in the Netherlands that would do abortions across the globe.
"I figured we would sail from country to country and help x number of women per day," she told the NRC Handelsblad newspaper.
However, with changes in the Dutch law, she has canceled all planned trips for the abortion boat.
The move follows a decision by the Dutch government to make it so only certain centers in the Netherlands are able to distribute the abortion drug RU 486, also known as mifepristone. Until now, Dutch health minister Els Borst allowed Gomperts’ group to distribute the drug on its vessel.
"We had planned to campaign this year with a yacht off the coasts of Nicaragua, Chile, Brazil and Argentina," she told the newspaper. "Now [people who get the abortion drugs from those nations] risk prosecution in their own country if the Dutch health inspection rules that we are working outside the law. That’s a risk we couldn’t take, so we had to call off the campaign."
Not only has the law change prevented the abortion boat form sailing again, but the Dutch health inspection today asked the public prosecutor’s office to prosecute Women on Waves for distributing the abortion drug off the coast of Spain in 2008.
Gomperts told NRC Handelsblad that it is preparing a lawsuit challenging the new law.
She admitted to the newspaper that the abortion boat wasn’t successful and that surgical abortions were never done.
"The abortion boat is a myth," says Gomperts. "Our only real strategy is letting women know that there is such a thing as the abortion pill. They have to know that there is medication available for pregnancy termination."
With the abortion boat out of commission, Gomperts has founded a new organization called Women on Web, based in Canada, that mails the dangerous abortion drug to women worldwide.
The group asks women a series of 25 questions and then mails them the abortion drug from various sources in several nations.
"For many women this is huge progress," she says, but she doesn’t tell the newspaper whether she lets them know that the drug has killed more than a dozen women and injured more than 1,200 in the United States alone.
Gomperts says several hundred women get the abortion drugs every month and that 15 percent of them pay nothing to get the drugs. Women in more than one hundred countries have received the abortion pills.
The abortion activist was reportedly reluctant to talk about Women on Web and said she doesn’t represent the organization.
"It is such an important project, helping women in more than a hundred countries. I don’t want to say anything that could jeopardize the project. A lot of people want to thwart its efforts," she said.
She confirmed that officials in Ireland, which prohibits abortions, are confiscating the drugs and also confirmed that the group is targeting Internet users who search for terms such as "abortion pill."
The abortion boat will be remembers for a series of controversies.
In 2004, crew tried to sail for the Portuguese shore, but the Catholic country’s top officials called on a naval vessel to block the ship and prevent it from docking at a harbor in the northern part of the country. https://www.lifenews.com/nat801.html
Although the abortion boat did not do any abortions on its Portugal trip, the ship’s trip may have been a success if only because the nation eventually approved a ballot proposal legalizing abortion.
Also in 2008, the Dutch-based abortion boat arrived in the South American nation of Ecuador, where abortions are illegal. On its way there, the Women on Waves ship, Harmony, ran aground in a tropical storm.
The abortion boat will also be remembered for promoting the misuse of an ulcer drug to cause abortions.
In 2004, prevented from taking Portuguese women aboard their ship to distribute abortion drugs, operators of the Dutch abortion boat appeared on a Portuguese talk show and told women to misuse an over-the-counter ulcer medication to induce an abortion.
Appearing on the talk show "SIC 10 horas," Gomperts told women to use the ulcer drug Misoprostol to abort a pregnancy.
However, makers of the drug, also known as Cytotec in the U.S. or Arthrotec in Portugal, have issued warnings saying it is not safe to use in abortions.
In August 2000, more than a month before RU-486 was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Searle, the maker of Cytotec, sent out a strongly worded letter, with the cooperation of the FDA, saying misoprostol "is not approved for the induction of labor or abortion."
The letter said misuse of the drug can cause adverse effects such as a ruptured uterus, vaginal bleeding and "maternal or fetal death."
Dr. Randy O’Bannon, director of education and research at the National Right to Life Committee, told LifeNews.com that the decision to promote Cytotec abortions was "highly irresponsible."
"What these people are proposing is not some revolution in women’s health, but something which promotes their radical abortion agenda quite possibly at the expense of women’s health," O’Bannon explained.
O’Bannon blames operators of the abortion boat for telling women to use the drugs and providing no followup care.
"The Women on Waves people promote it, but where will they be when the women are having their abortions, having complications, dealing with developmental malformations that may have been brought on by the drug?" O’Bannon asked.
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