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. hopwin

    Um... so the abortion boat is a tugboat with a medical waste dumpster tied to the back?

    October 4, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • JoeTheTugboatCaptain

      That's what I was thinking also! Guess they don't get enough money to buy a real boat for their needs.

      October 4, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. hopwin

    Ummm... so the abortion ship is a tugboat with a medical waste dumpster tied to the back?

    October 4, 2012 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  3. mary

    Who are we to decide what is right and wrong!!! EVERYBODY makes their own choice!

    October 4, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  4. MennoKnight

    About 90 women die from illegal abortions in the country every year, she said...

    And in Holland 33,000 babies die every year from abortions.
    And in America that number is just over 1.6 Million.

    October 4, 2012 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  5. asdf

    Ireland, Portugal, and Spain eh? Isn't it a coincident all these countries are about to go bankrupt and main export is now unskilled labor. Catholicism has done more to hurt western civilization than any other organization in the last 2000 years.

    October 4, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  6. jm

    Right, because men have nothing to do with the process whatsoever.

    October 4, 2012 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  7. islamsuks

    Such a fool – you don't even know what little rights these women even have. Keep your legs closed and they kill you. They have no choice.

    October 4, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. majric

    I don't believe the 90 deaths number. Pre Roe v Wade the number never exceded 110 in one year in the US with a population of 300,000,000. The guy who testified that "over 10,000 women die every year from botched abortions" said years later that he lied under oath for dramatic effect knowing the real number full well.

    October 4, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ravenna

    I'm pro-choice. But somehow this story creeps me out. The boat doesn't look sanitary. The whole thing looks like a publicity stunt to stir international incident. There is a lack of perception on the part of the Dutch doctors regarding Morroccan culture's perception of such. Thing docking on their shores.

    October 4, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ravenna

      Ugh random period. Should be such A thing.

      October 4, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • A

      Better than a random no-period, in which case you'd probably want to get on this boat too! 🙂

      October 4, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nathan

      You might feel differently if you were a pregnant Moroccan woman with no options.

      October 4, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • serveJBR

      where are the pirates when needed?! Creepy is right. Good intentions to help one person that leads to the death of a totally innocent human = wrong, evil, not fair... however you want to slice it (sorry)

      October 4, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • montyross

      Nathan why must the murder of the unborn always be an option?

      October 4, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Livelystone

    It is clearly noted that Dutch law draws the line at 6 1/2 weeks for an abortion to remain legal. Personally, I believe life starts at conception but I also give credit to President Obama, who when speaking of abortion in the debates prior to the 2008 election wisely chose to pass the hat, and said that judging when human life was present was above his pay grade.

    On the other hand as much as I say that Jesus Christ is the only way, I give credit to nations and religions who walk a different path in their attempt to get to the top of the mountain but still have the courage to condemn abortion.

    In my opinion not all abortions should be illegal, but there needs to be a set of rules established for when it is legal other than through the whim of a person who thinks it is inconvenient for them to have a child.

    October 4, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • snowboarder

      "there needs to be a set of rules established for when it is legal "

      as essentially every nation where abortion is legal has done.

      October 4, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jack NYC

      I am pro-choice. I do wonder about late term abortions, however, and why someone would wait until then to make up their mind. Unless it is for a serious medical reason that would justify it why the long delay? I think a peson needs to act sooner rather than later. My opinion.

      October 4, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Evenstar13

    Abortion morally wrong. Women have an awsone responsibility with our bodies. It is not a playground. If it is growing and it is a human, then it is murder. Dead humans dont grow.

    October 4, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daremonai

      Yet it wasn't morally wrong till women gained the legal right to do it themselves..... the chruch had little issue with it when fathers and husbands were the ones that decided....

      October 4, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Trish

      Thou shalt not kill – with intention. This is with intention and planned. I see God's point of view. He created man and woman to procreate within marriage. Humans are not disposbile like the trash we throw for the garbage people to dispose of, but that is exactly what this is – call it for what it is already! God has this one and judgement will be harsh – He says it in His Word! Amen.

      October 4, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charlotte

      Abortion is none of YOUR business unless it's your own pregnancy you are talking about. And it's none of any government's. End of discussion. Move along, you have no right to an opinion about someone else's body.

      October 4, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Rick

    They must have Republicans in Morocco too. More people that think anyone engaged in womens health is an abortionist.

    October 4, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • steven harnack

      @frank, there are far more ways in which Republicans and Muslims are in sync than points that they differ. With just a few tweaks and a name change Republicans would gladly embrace Sharia Law.

      October 4, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • MashaSobaka

      Some people call them Republicans. Over there, I'm sure they have their own name for them. I just call them "extremists." Religion, nationality, race...none of it matters. You tell women that they should not have control over their own bodies, you're an extremist.

      October 4, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charlotte

      Frankie-ignoramus, what makes you think that "MUSLIM" is incompatible with "Republican"?? One is a religion, which has a vastly diverse group of people in it and vastly diverse opinions on such things as women's rights. The other is a terrorist organization determined to roll back women's rights, gay rights, black rights, non-Christian rights, health care, social safety nets and anything relating to progress for everyone who is not in the 1% richest people. But – there is nothing inherently exlusive about muslims and Republicans, in that any Muslim is perfectly allowed to be a Republican. Most of them just have too much sense to affiliate themselves with such a purtrid group.

      October 4, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  13. HerpDERPliberal

    Good for Morocco for not allowing the Liberal West's war on Women to enter their borders.

    October 4, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • snowboarder

      how is allowing women rights a war upon them?

      October 4, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • A

      Thanks for admitting you're basically Taliban.

      October 4, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Unborn

    Huh? How is killing an innocent human being ever a good thing? People can try to rationalize abortion, but ultimately it is pretty clear that abortion is evil. If these dutch really cared about human right, they would be bringing clean water and food to african nations where those basic necessities are often unavailable.

    I'm saying this because abortion is a very personal issue to me. I'm a teenager and roughly 1 out of every 4 members of my generation were killed in their mother's wombs through abortion. I wouldn't be here if my parents hadn't chosen to allow me to live. Abortion is not a human right; it is murder and the Holocaust of our age.

    October 4, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Youre Numbers are made up

      You are making up you numbers. Roughly 1 in 4 teenagers make up statistics or regurgitate stats that they heard from their parents... roughly. How about learning about statistics first and after that you can lecture people about numbers.

      October 4, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reality

      Sadly those numbers are numbers are accurate...

      Based on the government census 1 – 1.5 million babies are aborted on an annual basis. With about 4 million babies born a year, I'd say those numbers are a bit conservative. What's most disturbing is about 20% of those abortions were from women who have had more than 2 abortions already(census.gov). Seems that abortion is a free pass for women to be promiscuous...at least natural selection will get rid of most these unwanted genes.

      October 4, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Josh

    So what is this anyways? Your country doesn't allow murder so we'll bring murder to you? Islam might be an evil religion, but at least they have the sense to not allow such a barbaric act as abortion. I don't know which is worse, blowing people up or tearing into pieces or burning to death unborn children.

    October 4, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • A

      Yup...fundy Islam = fundy Christianity. Same religious totalitarianism, only disagreeing on the silly mythological particulars. Tastes great! Less filling!

      October 4, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • muslim american

      josh . why don't go and read about islam from the sourse then come back and comment about it . the hate and ignorance in your religion is the real evil , and killing palistanian and stealing their land is the preuve .weak up .

      October 4, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
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