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. 'Nother-Son-'O-Ursus

    Re: “…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.”

    As a retired municiapal paramedic...
    I salute the 'Woman-On-The-Waves' effort!

    Will some enterprising prolifer bomb this ship as the French bombed the Greenpeace ship years ago...thereby, (vainly)
    trying to protect REAL, (as opposed to 'IMAGINARY'!), W.M.D.'s from humans?

    SIGH...
    Keeping in mind that who.org & other demographers / statisticians are calling 2012 a wonderful year because there will be ONLY 15-20 million human starvation deaths, instead of the more usual 20-30+ million such (‘preventable) starvation / exposure / war-profiteering-related human-deaths…

    Can you just imagine what l'evel-of-goodness / quality-of-life' would be enhanced if the Latin-child-lovers, (aka, ‘N.A.M.B.L.A, Rome’), and/or, the clinic bombers, (Erich Rudolph & Scott '50-years-to-life' Roeder come to mind) decided to put their talents & energy toward something useful to humanity?

    Keeping in mind that there are an estimated 1-million.something (deceased) ‘Collaterals, Damaged’ in Iraq, alone…

    How much human suffering would have been averted if that ‘prolife Methodist’, (one Geo.W. Bush), and/or, the Anglican-reaffiliated-to-Roman Catholcism-Lap Dog, (aka, Anthony Blair), had spent that $3-Trillion on eradicating hunger;

    On…clothing the naked, providing medical care to the sick, & comfort to the needy/housing to the homeless…
    Instead of makin’ absolutely sure that no millionaire-billionaire’s offspring who would suffer the humiliating social scandal of arriving at their prep-school’s private airstrip…

    Via last year’s model of Gulfstream / other corporate jet??

    October 4, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Old Mother Humpwood

    Old Mother Humpwood had so many abortions by the time she was 50, her last one prolapsed. (turned her insides out) Acourse by the time she was 30, she had so many kids her uterus fell out.
    STAMP OUT teenage pregnancy. Make abortion illegal like it used to be.
    These ho bags are only using abortion as a crutch so they can hump away without being responsible for what they have done to America.

    October 4, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • TDM

      Get back on your meds. You make zero sense.

      October 4, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Trish

    Daremoni, Who is the Church?? Do you mean the Pope and the Vatican? They are not Jesus Christ's true church – only those who obey God are His True followers and sadly the Pope and Vatican are not them. So read the Bible and find out the Truth of who God is and who His true people are – He makes it clear in His Wiord, otherwise you will not know what you are talking about – just vapor coming out with no basis.

    October 4, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. boarddog

    Why is it that people with a "cause" think they have the right to shove their beliefs down the throats of others, especially other nations. Just is just like the IKEA thing. Geez...

    October 4, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Roger in Florida

    Reading these posts made me laugh. We should support them and see if we can get thousands of abortions going over there. Imagine if we could abort all the muslim babies. It be a safer world

    October 4, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • oh man

      Roger, posts and people like you make me very embarrassed to have been raised in Florida. Florida really is populated with a lot of nut jobs and rednecks. I'm glad I got out of there.

      October 4, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Trish?

    Trish Mauer from Mineola TX? Is that you? Bride of Travis? Friend of little Leah?

    October 4, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • TDM

      Do you think everyone with that name is someone your know? Okaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay..................................

      October 4, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Missy Olivia

    Oh well ... it's only the Moroccan govt killing off Moroccan women. They end up dying anyway, from trying to get abortions on the street.

    October 4, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • parkmore

      You do not know anything about Morocco. So please we do not need comment from ignorants. I am from Morocco in the US. We are against killing babies. If you agree with the Dutch, please just stay away from my country, it's not your home. Killing babies in international waters is horrible

      October 4, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andy Anderson

      So at least 90 women dying every year because they cannot access safe and effective medical services doesn't bother you?

      October 4, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. B.C. doesn't just stand for Before Christ

    Legalize: if men were responsible (instead of behaving like little boys who run away when they make a mess) by using birth control every single time, abortion would be a thing of the past. Please remove the log in your own male eye before you comment on the splinter in someone else's. Thank you.

    October 4, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  9. maryindy

    You're twisted, you know that? Don't like abortion? Don't have one. It's easier for you to believe what you believe rather than the truth. Not every woman who seeks an abortion is promiscuous.

    October 4, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. SkagitMichele

    This article does not mention if the women of Morocco asked this 'ship of death' to come to their port. Also, wouldn't the women know that they would be seen boarding the ship, their male relatives alerted, and that they may become the victim of an 'honor killing' – all for the freedom to kill their unborn child?
    Rather arrogant of the Dutch to feel that this will alleviate problems for the women involved.

    October 4, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andy Anderson

      I noticed the part where you don't really care about women dying either way. I saw what you did there.

      October 4, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • SupportWOW

      Yes, the ship was invited by the Moroccan human rights group MALI (mouvement alternatif pour les libertés individuelles).
      Not all Moroccan men are like that. Some are just as frustrated by the laws as the women they love.

      October 4, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Does anyone else find SupportWOW's ironic that a supposed "human rights" group requested that the floating butcher shop come to Morocco to murder babies?

      Scott

      October 4, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • SkagitMichele

      Andy Anderson:
      How you got the idea I don't care about these women, from my comment, is confusing. I would not want either mother or child to die. How this ship 'frees' women confuses me. So, what you think you 'saw' you didn't. Nice try.

      October 4, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Curly Q

    or it's not available to them, or they can't afford it, or...

    October 4, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Majority Are

    @maryindy

    October 4, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Brian

    It is also a godsend for women, like my mother, who could have died without one due to medical complications after my siblings were already born.

    October 4, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  14. values?

    Nancy, most people who support a woman's right to choose have never had an abortion and never want to be faced with making that choice. They support people's ability to choose (yes or no) should they find they have a need. I perceive that many people who are anti-choice also support limiting women's access to forms of birth control, making it more likely that women may find themselves in need of this service. I also perceive that many people who support anti-choice are also pro-gun and don't want anyone to take away their choice to own a gun so they may potentially kill someone. It is a curious cosegregation of values.

    October 4, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Wingrider

    The only thing that upsets me when I listen to the anti-abortion faction, is that we have 7 billion people on a planet designed to house about 5 billion. If we keep going we will eat ourselves out of house and home. If somebody wants to assist in alleviating this over population, why complain.

    October 4, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Crysta

      Oh please...that is so false...there are so many places to live it is ridiculous...give me a credible source that says we are running out of places to live...did you know that the USA today makes enough food to feed the world? It is the governments that are a problem...with their big governments and corruption

      October 4, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • André Kruger

      So dear Wingrider, why don't you just set an example and abort yourself? After birth, it's called "suicide".

      October 4, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      Do a little research Crysta. The planet has neither the topsoil nor the oceans to sustain 7 billion people. We're overfishing everything with deep sea dredging. Species are going extinct. Look up the number of acres of Amazon rainforest being cleared every day for more farmland for yourself. Only in a hippy-dippy utopia fantasy where everyone eats nothing but veggies can the planet sustain 7 billion. The reality, which is going to end very badly, is that we all consume at whatever the maximum rate that we can is. How many of your friends drive instead of walk? See?

      October 4, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      LOL Andre... I love how the most outspoken abortion opponents foam at the mouth and call for someone's death at the drop of a hat. Flaming hypocrits, every one of you.

      October 4, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • seyedibar

      Current studies show that the planet can sustain 11 billion, but after that, yes we are in deepdoodoo.
      Talking to you, China!

      October 4, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
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