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. CPERRY

    I hope that those on the ship are arrested and thrown in jail for at least 50 years, Maybe this will be a good example to others that ignoring the local laws to push an illegal agenda comes with consequences!

    October 4, 2012 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Trish

      There is something better than jail – the 2nd death described in the Bible. Repent now for the Kingdom of God is near and getting nearer every day.

      October 4, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • neil480

      Trish

      For as long as I have been alive I have regularly heard this 'Jesus is coming' rubbish touted by Christians.

      My question is this, when will he arrive?

      Oh, you don't know when? Then how can you say 'the kingdom of god is near' when you don't actually have a time and date to hand? Oh oh... hang on... oh thats right – 'blind faith'. The cornerstone of any religion.

      Maybe one day the human race will finally shed this cancer that is religion and the human race will be so much better off.

      October 5, 2012 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
  2. Ash

    Most likely these Dutch women were under the influence...drugs! Morocco have the right to force it's laws, when in Rome do as Romans do?...enough said!

    October 4, 2012 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  3. Lee-Anne

    Well, it is their country and they don't have to let any boat in their territorial waters they don't want to. Quite simply, she has no rights while in their waters. If she wants to go past the 12 mile mark and people can take boats to her, then the government there has no say so. However, they can control any boat movement within the 12 miles if they like. I am not defending their viewpoint on abortion (nor condemning it), but it is not a "right". I know people say that no one has control over my body, but a child is the product of 2 people. Doesn't he have a say as well? It is not a cut and dry issue.

    October 4, 2012 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
  4. Phil

    Wow, people are really determined to kill babies. This is getting even worse than pathetic that it already is.

    October 4, 2012 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
    • kmw

      Phil,

      I agree and it is so sad. I am glad Morocco is not letting them stay. In my mind, abortion is murder. Clear and simple!!!

      October 4, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • One_Well_Planned_Baby

      Well Phil, I'm sure you've never made any mistakes in your life either... Do you recall being a baby in the womb? What would you rather see happen.. A woman, whom might already have children, perhaps that she's even struggling to provide for.. Have another child that she cannot care for...die. OR, a fetus, that has not yet even developed into anything much more than a zygote..aborted? What right do you have to make decisions on other peoples situations?

      October 4, 2012 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  5. Miyafuji

    Strong women, but she really needs to be careful. She could get really hurt or killed in Africa, or the Middle East.

    October 4, 2012 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Ash

      Strong women is something and stupidity is another...and this is an example of stupidity and interfering with other people business and way of life...

      October 4, 2012 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
  6. Dhulfiqar

    I don't understand the logic - to give birth is a woman's right? So are we claiming men have no rights over pro-creation? To me this logic is flawed, it's tainted with a capitalistic mentality and materialism. And those that claim to be socialists - who advocate sharing, why stop at materialism? Why not share your bodies? This is a rhetorical question just to get you think, no need to pounce on it 🙂

    The fetus is not your body. You can't claim it as so - not everything in life is "mine mine mine and only mine." Materialism is an artificial world created after the industrial revolution and boom of capitalism - mainly in the West but has been successfully exported to the East.

    Abortion advocates need a better argument, I'm not buying this women's body claim. I'm open to listen to other arguments.

    Thanks.

    October 4, 2012 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      and exactly WHO'S right is it for a woman to give birth? I hope you are not insinuating that men have rights over women's bodies at all. Curses on you if that's the case!

      October 4, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Dhulfiqar

      @Frank The act of procreating is a joint effort, that's what I'm implying.

      October 4, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • TDM

      What if BOTH of the procreaters want the abortion??

      October 4, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ash

    Their website should be (aborted)

    October 4, 2012 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
    • doughnuts

      It's a real shame your mom didn't call them.

      October 4, 2012 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  8. spangler

    The straight community will have much to answer for when the roll is called. Is this an abomination?

    October 4, 2012 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  9. Ash

    That's what they want they want Death...have a look...www.cheffabregat.com/issues.html

    October 4, 2012 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  10. fiftyfive55

    Women taking full responsibility for abortions,at least they cant blame men for killing their babies,it's all their decision .

    October 4, 2012 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  11. Ben

    So, If Muslims don't like the women's rights laws of the US, should they be able to sail a "stoning Ship" into New York so men can bring on their cheating spouses?

    October 4, 2012 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
    • pam

      Yes, if the person to be stoned consents to being brought to the ship. Just as the women being brought on board must consent to have an abortion performed.

      October 4, 2012 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
    • sara

      abortion is actually legal in Islam till 16 weeks of gestation! get your facts straight

      October 4, 2012 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  12. Antiquity

    I say they sink it. it'll be an international incident but hey, you can't just come up to a country in a boat with the intention to do something that is expressly illegal in that country.

    There is also a nice little 2 panel comic on the subject of abortion. The first panel is of a man, the text above his head reads "If a man doesn't want to be a father" continued below him in italics "he is a deadbeat dad"

    the second panel has a woman, the text above her reads "If a woman doesn't want to be a mother" continued below her in italics "She's pro choice"

    I encourage you all to consider the implications of that.

    October 4, 2012 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      I have thought about that and have also taught to my son that if a man does not want to become a dad, he should keep his pants zipped. END OF STORY.

      October 4, 2012 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • snowboarder

      frank – thankfully, there are ways to engage in s3x that will not result in pregnancy.

      as they say "a cat has more than one life"

      October 4, 2012 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Jared

      Really, you can't bring ships into ports to load up people and take them into international waters where they then can do things they can't do locally??? And they should be sunk???

      Maybe someone should tell that to the people who run Casino Ships – you know those ships that come into US ports where gambling is illegal, load up the ship and sail into international waters for a few days of gambling.

      October 4, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • TDM

      And again Scott shows just how ignorant he is about women.

      TDM

      October 4, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ozzi

    There are so many countries where people are starving with hunger, why don't any of these western countries send some ships with food. No one will object to that. But they always find things those are contavecial and offensive to people. And then call other people backward or religious etc. I think their goal is to start contravesy, specialy, against muslims.

    October 4, 2012 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      Actually many countries do (though giving away food isn't really the answer either as much of the time the food goes to dictators and the military. Also offering free or low cost food hurts substistence farmers). Abortion and birth control helps there to be less mouths to feed hence less hunger.

      Women on Waves has existed for over a decade now. They will try to help women wherever they can, no matter if they live in a Muslim theocracy or a Catholic theocracy.

      October 4, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Rob Hill

      There're countless groups out to feed the ever increasing numbers of starving people. This is one little boat going around trying to help women who don't want to bring more unwanted children into a world of starving, unwanted children.

      October 4, 2012 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • doughnuts

      They, and we, have been sending food aid to many countries for several decades. Along with medical aid, agricultural machinery and advisers, and just about every other sort of assistance.

      October 4, 2012 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  14. trollol

    I wish them the best. Abortion can't be stopped. You can either do it safely or you do it in a way that may kill the pregnant woman. Either way, the pregnancy can be aborted regardless of ridiculous laws that takes away a woman's rights to her own body.

    October 4, 2012 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  15. The

    Where are all the human rights groups to defend life?

    October 4, 2012 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Ash

      They are busy defending the The Free Syria Army aka AlQaeda!

      October 4, 2012 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • doughnuts

      They're busy trying to get Planned Parenthood shut down, even though that would increase the number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions.

      October 4, 2012 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
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