Morocco navy escorts abortion vessel out of port, group says
The Women on Waves ship Langenort took the organization's campaign to Poland in 2003.
October 4th, 2012
08:30 PM ET

Morocco navy escorts abortion vessel out of port, group says

[Update 10:30 p.m. ET] A ship filled with activists who say they are there to help women receive abortions was escorted out of the Moroccan port of Smir after the government initially blocked the harbor and prevented residents from accessing the vessel.

Abortion is illegal in Morocco, and the country's Health Ministry said in a statement that it had not authorized the vessel's visit or any procedures by nonresident doctors.

The "abortion ship" is run by Women on Waves, which was founded in 1999 by a Dutch doctor to provide abortions to women in countries where the practice is illegal.

The Women on Waves ship takes women into international waters to perform the abortions, which are legal under Dutch law, until 6.5 weeks into the pregnancy.

But authorities in the predominantly Muslim country seemed to effectively block the activists efforts on Thursday.

"The ship was searched, and the captains were informed that they had to leave the harbor," Women on Waves said in a statement. "When asked the reason why, they were informed that although no laws were broken, the ship had to leave Smir."

The ship was then "escorted from the harbor by the navy," though the crew plans to "stay near Morocco" and "strategize their next move."

"I will not be practicing as a gynecologist in Morocco," said Gunilla Kleiverda, a Women on Waves gynecologist aboard the vessel.  "We are not going to perform any abortions within Morocco. We are sailing out with women to international waters where in the international sea the Dutch law applies," she said.

A female member of the group told CNN that she and a number of other demonstrators had been in front of the marina in Smir. She said there was a big, aggressive protest taking place and police were present.

She said police said she was "not authorized" to be there.

"I am not going to be intimidated by them," she told CNN before the phone line dropped.

Women on Waves also advocates the use of a drug called misoprostol, which it says is available legally in Morocco, to perform abortions up to 12 weeks after conception. The group says it is establishing a phone hotline in Morocco for women to get information on how to perform the abortions at home.

Kleiverda said Moroccan women need access to safe abortions. About 90 women die from illegal abortions in the country every year, she said.

The ship has previously taken the campaign to Ireland, Poland, Portugal and Spain, but this is its first attempt to offer abortions for women in an Islamic country.

Women on Waves said on its website that it is looking into alternatives to get the ship into port in Morocco after the Smir harbor was blocked.

CNN's Stephanie Halasz, Jo Shelley and journalist Aida Alami contributed to this report.

[Original post 10:48 a.m. ET] The government of Morocco has closed the port of Smir and is blocking the harbor with warships to prevent the entry of a Dutch "abortion ship" to the Islamic country, the organization running the ship said Thursday.

Abortion is illegal in Morocco, and the country's Health Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that it had not authorized the vessel's visit or any procedures by nonresident doctors.

The abortion ship is run by Women on Waves, which was founded in 1999 by a Dutch doctor to provide abortions to women in countries where the practice is illegal.

Women on Waves doctor Marlies Schellekens told CNN that she and about 10 other members of her group and Alternative Movement for Individual Freedoms, the Moroccan activist group that invited the abortion ship to Morocco, are trying to make their way to the harbor in Smir.

The main entrance has been blocked by police; a female Moroccan lawyer representing the group is trying to negotiate with officers to let the group enter, Schellekens said. Dutch lawmaker Liesbeth van Tongeren is also with the group, she said.

The abortion ship has not yet tried to enter the port, she said.

The Women on Waves ship takes women into international waters to perform the abortions, which are legal under Dutch law, until 6.5 weeks into the pregnancy.

Gunilla Kleiverda, a Women on Waves gynecologist aboard the vessel, stressed that point in an interview with CNN on Thursday.

“I will not be practicing as a gynecologist in Morocco," Kleiverda said.

“We are not going to perform any abortions within Morocco. We are sailing out with women to international waters where in the international sea the Dutch law applies," she said.

Women on Waves also advocates the use of a drug called misoprostol, which it says is available legally in Morocco, to perform abortions up to 12 weeks after conception. The group says it is establishing a phone hotline in Morocco for women to get information on how to perform the abortions at home.

Kleiverda said Moroccan women need access to safe abortions. About 90 women die from illegal abortions in the country every year, she said.

The ship has previously taken the campaign to Ireland, Poland, Portugal and Spain, but this is its first attempt to offer abortions in an Islamic country.

Women on Waves said on its website that it is looking into alternatives to get the ship into port in Morocco after the Smir harbor was blocked.

CNN's Stephanie Halasz, Jo Shelley and journalist Aida Alami contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Abortion • Morocco • Netherlands
soundoff (555 Responses)
  1. Lou

    This would, of course, be an act of war.

    October 4, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      Do you mean a Dutch ship attempting to take unborn Moroccan children into international water to kill them, or the Moroccan Navy closing it's port to a currently neutral country?

      October 4, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      @Josh I'm sure you wouldn't mind for those kids to be bombed to death after they are born as they are Muslim. It's funny to see the Islamaphobes stand together with Islam to hurt women.

      October 4, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Scott

    AWwwwwww, whats-a-matter little libs? You are the ones that out gas the lie of supporting freedom of speech, yet you deleted my comment, and the subsequent thread about the Moroccan Navy. I guess you aren't nearly a ... (gag) ... tolerant as you claim 😉

    I checked out the Moroccan Navy and they are a modern Frigate Navy. I don't see why they don't just go out and sink the floating butcher shop. (And to appease the pro-abortion libs) They can fire a shot across the bow of the SS Coathanger giving the baby butchers a warning to abandon ship before they sink it 😉

    Scott

    October 4, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • TDM

      Your comments are being deleted because they are deliberately slanderous and untrue, with plenty of ad hominem added for zest.

      October 4, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      TDM,
      Oh, you mean a lot like the libs' comments 😉 Once again hypocrisy of the liberal.

      By the way, what did I state that was "slanderous" (I think you mean libelous)?

      Thanks,
      Scott

      October 4, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • TDM

      Ah, yes, the magical "resident libs" delete button. 😉 It's TOTALLY CNN's gig. 😉

      October 4, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      TDM,
      It called the "Report abuse" button. It's automated. Once it has been pushed the requisite number of times the comment is automatically deleted.

      Scott

      October 4, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob Jenkins

      Forget your meds today?

      October 4, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • newdouglitas

      I absolutely disagree with both your opinion, and your tone.

      But one interesting point was that you chose to mock the pro-choice ship by calling it the SS Coathanger. How ironic....because only when abortion is *illegal* do women have to resort to back-alley, coathanger abortions. The organization Women on Waves is actively working to eliminate coathanger abortions for Moroccan women while you, sir, are actively promoting them.

      October 4, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      I love the fact that you are probably an Islamaphobe but gladly join their religious rhetoric when it takes a stand against women.

      October 4, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      Oh look, an ignorant hypocrit that has actually realized that it's hypocritical to claim to be opposed to the "killing" of zygotes while simultaneously calling for the killing of everyone aboard a ship backpeddling by suggesting that a "shot across the bow" be fired so taht they can all jump into the water. What a disgusting, pathetic hypocrit. Go back to your control-freak fantasies where you live in a dystopian society and get to make decisions about what women can and cannot do with their own bodies. If you don't want an abortion, then don't have one, but keep your weird violent fantasies where you advocate killing people and sinking ships to your own disgusting self.

      October 4, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lucy

      Ugh, I see school's out for the day and the little boys are trolling.

      October 4, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • JSH

      Scott...freedom of speech means the government won't come drag you away for saying something. What is wrong with you? It also means others can disagree with you and delete your brattiness. Go read a book.

      October 4, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Bob,
      I think Frank is the one that didn't take his meds today. Have you read Frank's tirade? 😉

      JSH,
      Yes, I know that the First Amendment applies to the government. In the comment thread that the komrade libs deleted I had point that out. You are wrong about deleting comments as part of Freedom of Speech. Deleting comments is similar to burning books that you don't agree with. Hence, it is hypocritical of the libs, as if that's something new, for them to espouse Freedom of Speech while at the same time deleting comments.

      Scott

      October 4, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Lucy,
      Nope, I'm posting here while I'm waiting for my simulations to run.

      Scott

      October 4, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Lou

    After reading all of these comments, I am more in favor of abortion than ever before. What were your mother's thinking?

    October 4, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Let the potheads out of the closet

      That's a Like.

      October 4, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rebecca

      Hail Mary to that Lou.

      October 4, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jose

    It's not an unborn baby, its a fetus. Get over it.

    October 4, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Magic God

      Religo nuts have a hard time grasping this with magical thinking

      October 4, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • anita

      and what is a fetus? A baby

      October 4, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose is a TOOL

      Apparently Jose thinks this will just grow into a tumor or something.....

      October 4, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • agathokles

      @anita: No, a fetus is not a "baby." A fetus is a fetus. Next you'll be holding funeral services for eggs sloughed off with monthly menses.

      October 4, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Magic God

    "The group says it is establishing a phone hotline in Morocco for women to get information on how to perform the abortions at home."
    .
    I am all for abortions but not sure on this one. 😮

    October 4, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • agathokles

      My reading is that the home "abortions" are drug-induced miscarriages. That is why they might be safely done at home.

      October 4, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  6. SkepticalOne

    Gotta love the religious wingnuts who love the fetus but hate the child. They want to force you to have it but don't you dare to ask for help to feed it after it is born.

    October 4, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      ... and your proof of this is? By the way virtually every homeless shelter and food bank is sponsored by ... gasp ... religious organizations here in the U.S.. Now you were out gassing what?

      Scott

      October 4, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richp

      Here in the US any mother can drop any baby off at any hospital or police station and without any explanation to anyone. What we are talking about is that 9 months of inconvenience.

      October 4, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      @Rich. To call 9 months of pregnancy and labor an inconvenience is beyond belittling

      October 4, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Michael

    Pretty disgusting.....they travel across the sea to.....perform abortions? Isn't there other ways that an MD can help women in this country??

    October 4, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • agathokles

      Helping women to end unwanted pregnancies helps them quite a lot, actually. If also saves lives of women who might die from illegally obtained abortions.

      October 4, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. @Trish

    Global climate warming is all natural. (pollution has made for violent weather extremes, not global warming)
    Nothing can stop this earth from becoming what God purposed for it when he and his son Jesus constructed it: A warm Paradise filled with true lovers of Christ and followers of The Way he commanded.
    Jusus did not come to bring peace but to cause division between those who love God and those who only say they do but do NOT follow his son. (Matthew ch. 10)
    God will bring to ruin those ruining this earth with their luxuriant dung waste and excessive greedy pollution. Those who love this land and who love this living God will remain on earth forever!

    October 4, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. friend

    THERE IS A BABY KILLER SHIP!!!! WOW!!!!

    October 4, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. hoodoo2012

    In all civilized democratic countries women have a right to chose. In the US and many oppressed countries religious fanatics try to control what women can or can't do. You are such Hippocrates. One one hand you conservative religious freaks hate the federal government and never get tired of telling us about freedom to make personal decisions. But this only seems to apply to decisions made that you agree with. When it comes to abortion your groups try everything to get states and the federal government to make abortions (person freedom to chose) illegal.
    By the way, I am not a woman and I feel that as a man I have absolutely no right to make any decision for somebody who has to give birth and feel mentally and economically fit to raise a child. It is the woman's decision. If you are against abortions it is your right to and you can and should chose not to have one. But anybody who does chose to have an abortion has the same rights as you do. Shut up and leave them alone. I am sure the decision to abort is hard enough as it is. These women don't need some sign carrying freaks to make their life's even harder.

    October 4, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • SMW

      Thanks hoodoo2012.

      October 4, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
  11. dadomac

    Just wondering... pro-choice groups never accept that a fetus is a baby. Just a blob. Yet they are the first to protest against any ads showing an aborted fetus. Afraid of guilty trips?

    October 4, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  12. dadomac

    We may all benefit from this. The MDs perform abortions aboard the ship. The parts, head, body, limbs thown out into the sea. The fishes feast on the fetuses' parts, the fishes grows fat. Fishermen catch the fishes. We eat the fishes grown from fetuses. Everybody happy.

    October 4, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Billy

    @JanetMermaid Many people are against abortion for completely scientific and secular reasons. Abortion has its roots in religion in the US, just look at the Unitarian Universalists and their role in legalizing abortion, they were absolutely key.
    The "Lilith Fund", which funds abortions, is based upon Adam's supposed baby-killing first wife.

    October 4, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Name*Priest

    To all you who claim the woman has a "right" to make a decision about her body, you're forgetting one person, the child. That child has a "right" to life as well!! May God forgive you all.

    October 4, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • JSH

      Please. Give us a break...

      October 4, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ER

    I am confused at a day in age where we have advanced so far that we are still telling women what to do with their bodies. This ultra conservative nonsense needs to stop. We have to stop going backwards and move forwards.

    October 4, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      Yngvar, that is a ridiculous thing to say. If you had been terminated by natural causes (20%-60% chance) during your pregnancy, you wouldn't be here to say what others can and cannot do with their bodies. Go back to the 1800's.

      October 4, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
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