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Organization Helps Women Receive Abortions Legally in International Waters

Organization Helps Women Receive Abortions Legally in International Waters

October 2, 2012 — The Dutch abortion-rights organization Women on Waves travels the world by ship to bring safe abortion care to women in countries where the procedure is illegal and raise awareness of medication abortion, the Daily Beast reports. Women can board the group's boat and receive medication abortion drugs legally in international waters.

The boat currently is en route to Morocco, which will mark its first mission in an Islamic country.

Rebecca Gomperts, a gynecologist and founder of Women on Waves, said the trip to Morocco was inspired by the Arab spring. "In all the revolutions that have taken place, in all the changes, women's rights have been ignored," she said, adding, "We never see abortion as an isolated issue. It's part of the fundamental human right of autonomy and sexual freedom."

About 47,000 women die each year from unsafe abortions, accounting for nearly 13% of maternal deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

Gomperts said that although only a small number of women typically obtain abortions each time the ship docks, other women are helped through increased attention to the issue. "The fact that we can actually do abortions on the ship makes the media interested, the people interested in the campaign. That is how other women know about medical abortion," she said.

The organization also works with women's groups to set up hotlines with information about medication abortion. The call lines are now available in Latin America, Indonesia, Pakistan and parts of Africa (Goldberg, Daily Beast, 10/1).