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. dadomac

    Two species of human being. Pro-abortion and anti abortion. One of these species will be extinct in time. The problem solves itself.

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

      You think pro choice people don't have kids? LOL. You think kids of anti abortion people don't end up pro choice? LOL. There is a reason why almost every civilized country has abortion legal and only religious one's with lots of poverty ban it.

      October 4, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Billy

      Sure Pro-Choice people have kids, and sure there are some Pro-Life people that do not have kids, but more often than not I would guess that pro-life people have more kids, and Pro-Choicers have less kids (at least living ones), so over time there will be a gradual trend towards extinction of those that embrace the pro-choice mentality. Abortion is eugenics, this is why it is pushed so much on other races.

      October 4, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • americanasanguine

      Yeah it's Eugenics. That's why the whitest countries in the world like Scandinavia and the Netherlands make sure that abortion is completely legal for their women.

      October 4, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dimets

      yup, as illustrated in Idiocracy

      October 4, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Billy

      Yes, these countries have legal abortion, but look at the history of eugenics. Abortion and birth control have been heavily pushed by the eugenics movement.

      It is probably white people on the WOW boat, going down to a country with a boat load of RU-486 to give to mostly brown people.

      October 4, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Steve

    This tug boat is not flying the proper ensign.

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

      yeah wheres the skull and crossbones! funny how the civilized westerners and coming over to help "abort" children. their own bodies huh? whos heart stops after this procedure? not the womans therefore the greater effect of the procedure is felt by a body other than there own. the whole its her body point is moot.

      October 4, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Billy

    If the WOW are concerned about Women's health, what happens to the women in the third world countries that will die from RU-486 hemorrhaging, or have incomplete abortions and die of septic shock? These women would probably be safer getting a "back-alley" abortion. RU-486 is not the safest drug, and there are many adverse complications that can occur which even the drug manufacturer recommends being close to a quality hospital for.

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

      They'd be much safer not being controlled by the ultra religious male heirarchy in third world countries. One problem at a time, I guess.

      ps: what orifice did you pull your 'facts' from?

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

      Do you have any idea about the possible complications of pregnancy and birth? Natural miscarriage also has complications

      October 4, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Billy

      My facts are spot on, if you refute them it is your job to show I am incorrect, not the other way around. I am sure some quick google research will support all of my facts though, many abortion providers refuse to even use RU-486 because of the potential complications.

      October 4, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      Most abortions in Europe are done with RU-486. Every medication has _possible_ side effects. There isn't a medication that exist that doesn't. Pregnancy and labor are far more dangerous. Women on waves gives instructions on what to do if one has side effects.

      October 4, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Billy

      WOW is just aching for a lawsuit. Excessive blood loss and incomplete abortions are common with RU-486; a proper D&C and antibiotics are needed for an incomplete, and a safe blood supply is necessary for transfusion if women experience excessive bleeding. These women are set for death, and the blood will be on the hands of WOW.

      October 4, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Billy

      Pregnancy and labor are FAR safer than RU-486; now we could get into a nit picky debate on SURGICAL abortion, which is relatively safe (unless you are the baby), but RU-486 is not safe without good medical facilities for complications.
      I guess if you have a eugenic agenda, you do not really care if the mothers live or die though.

      October 4, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      Pregnancy and labor are far safer than RU 486?? LMMFAO LOL. Please check out a thing or two about medical science and step away from your theocratic nonsense. Have a nice day.

      October 4, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Billy

      Please Michelle tell me where I am wrong about serious complications, please cite the actual numbers for me. Get them from actual scientific sources. I want you to provide them to me, so you believe them when you see them, rather than writing it off as Pro-Life bias.

      October 4, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Billy

      Abortion is rooted in bad religion, my perspective on abortion has nothing to do with any theocratic position. Look at the UUA and its role in legalizing abortion. Science is on my side.

      The way I see it though, by God or Darwin, elective abortion will eventually come to an end.

      October 4, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • ajk68

      Michelle needs to stop listening to propaganda and get the facts.

      October 4, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Billy

      I bet there is some abortionist nodding his head somewhere that is reading my comments agreeing that RU-486 without facilities to handle complications is extremely unsafe. While I sure do not see eye to eye with most abortionists, at least most of them are not foolish and callous enough to blatantly risk the safety of women in such a manner.

      October 4, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • americanasanguine

      I'm sorry but if you believe that RU-486 is more dangerous than labor you are either a liar or severely misinformed.

      October 4, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Billy

      @americanasanguine
      Please find the stats to inform me, I am begging.
      I am sure the WOW are giving all of these poor women vouchers for free hospital trips to deal with the complications from RU-486. But please inform me of the complication rates from RU-486, and then tell me what happens if these complications are not treated. I am sure you can find the info on the CDC, FDA, or Cytotec websites.

      October 4, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Abdulthebutcher

    Abortions for all...

    October 4, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. The Master

    Too much risk for too little "good" They should give up.

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

    I applaud the effort of Dr. Gompert to provide health services to women in Morocco. Abortion is a fact and a right of women. Either it is provided legally and safely, or else, women do it in back alleys. The Islamic world is backwards on a whole raft of issues including abortions. The U.S., for now, is still an advanced country more enlightened than the Muslims. Let's hope we remain that way, and we will not need missions like this to help women achieve sovereignty over their own bodies.

    October 4, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. M

    So le me see if I am understanding this correctly... these women board this rickety looking old fishing boat, ride out to international waters, and then what? Legs in the stirrups and in comes the doctor right there on the boat?? It is just pathetic that in this day and age these poor women have to be treated like this.

    October 4, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. JP

    The bigotry of liberals never ceases to amaze. Not finding enough brown children to murder at home, the Dutch take to the high seas. As a person of color I find the left's obsession with aborting non-white babies disgusting.

    October 4, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chief

      None white? Shut up you racist pig. This is for women OF ALL COLOR, Morocco just happens to have some of the strictest anti-CHOICE laws many Muslim nations.

      Choice is not something that happens because you were born with one set of tools or another, CHOICE IS THE BASIC FREEDOM WE ARE ALL BORN WITH. It should NEVER be relinquished to someone else.

      October 4, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dimets

      Your inability to read amazes me. The article stated that the boat has already visited Ireland, Poland, Portugal and Spain.

      October 4, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Devon

    Good for Morocco...it is a ship full of murderers....

    October 4, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mary

    Wow.............going to such extremes to kill innocent babies..........tragic...........

    October 4, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • seyedibar

      tragic? or HILARIOUS?

      October 4, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. steve

    good for Morocco! gotta get these eugenics punks attention somehow!

    October 4, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  12. COEngineer

    That ship looks like it is there to change someone's oil, not perform a medical procedure (otherwise known as murder).

    October 4, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Observer

      It's only murder to those who don't understand the legal definition of murder.

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

    You have no right saying what people who are pro-life do and do not do as far as helping children, the poor etc. I think it would be amazing also if Planned Parenthood took some of its considerable money and used it to help women who want to keep their children. Adoption is NOT a death sentence. Perhaps PP could donate money or put an adoption clinic inside its clinics...

    October 4, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Julie

    they need to make port in Mississippi... since its pretty much illegal there too.

    October 4, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ash

    Hey so called Chief!! mind with your damn business, and let us choose not to be killers like you !

    October 4, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
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