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. Scott

    Interesting how the pro-abortion libs keep deleting comments that they don't like. I thought that komrade libs were all for Freedom of Speech. My bad, it appears that the komrade libs are ONLY for Freedom of Liberal Speech.

    Scott

    October 4, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Evolved One

      And you are only for freedom when it applies to your twisted morality.

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

      non-Evolved One,
      I'm for freedom for ALL living humans, born and unborn.

      Scott

      October 4, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam

      Boring troll.

      October 4, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Joe Z.

    Funny, I figured that Americans would love the idea of removing as many Muslims as possible from the world.

    October 4, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Crysta

      they are still people! it is only the 2-5% that are extreme radicals/psycho...that small percentage should not determine how we see them...that gets into dangerous waters..

      October 4, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Richard

    I am not pro-abortion, but I am pro-freedom and I know how to mind my own business.

    October 4, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Richard,
      Your statement reminded me of the Martin Niemöller quote:

      First they came for the communists,
      and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

      Then they came for the socialists,
      and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.

      Then they came for the trade unionists,
      and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

      Then they came for me,
      and there was no one left to speak for me.

      Scott

      October 4, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • TDM

      When they come for Scott, people will applaud.

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

    GOOD DEAL SCOTT.....THEN THOSE UNWANTED PREGNANCIES CAN COME TO YOUR HOUSE TO LIVE – ENJOY THE COMPANY!
    CHEERS!

    October 4, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Michael

    Please tell me all you pro-life folks, why is it your business what a woman does with her body? If you don't like abortion, don't do it. Take your religious dogma and stick it up your asses....

    Single, Independent voting, white, American male

    October 4, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Because that is a human life growing inside of the mother, NOT some tumor as you pro-abortionites like to claim it is.

      Scott

      October 4, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Terri

      Scott came along to prove your point loud and clear...

      October 4, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • OKC

      It isn't her body.....it is a seperate life inside a women and totally dependent upon her but it is not her body. If she wants to chop an arm off go right a head, that is her body.

      October 4, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  6. André Kruger

    About time "abortion" is pronounced correctly: "killing babies". Not even murderers get executed any more, why should people who never even had a chance to prove their worth be?

    October 4, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. yummm

    Let the Moroccan babies be born, they have to have SOMETHING to eat there.

    October 4, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Frank

    Oh look, another ignorant hypocrit who claims to be opposed to killing while advocating killing. Probably doesn't even have the brain cells to realize it.

    October 4, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. TDM

    That you bring gender preference into this conversation shows how little you know about anything. You need to be quiet.

    TDM

    October 4, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. bob

    If fertilized eggs are people, the police will need to start demanding tampon checks each month that a woman menstruates...after all, she may have committed involuntary manslaughter if her body does not allow an egg to implant...and she should be held accountable for every "murder" that her body commits.

    October 4, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Evolved One

      If these moralists had their way.......after all, we are just incubators to them.

      October 4, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Scott

    Obviously Frank it is wayyyyyyyyy to hard for you to understand that I am against killing INNOCENT life, e.g. unborn babies. However, stopping a crime from happening, e.g murder/abortion, is NOT murder.

    Scott

    October 4, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Evolved One

    Must be so nice to be a man.....

    October 4, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. yummm

    But Morocco is 99% Muslim, and I'm sure you support bombing the smithereens out of other Muslim countries, so why not kill these potential future heathens?

    October 4, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  14. yummm

    Innocent life? Does that include animals?

    October 4, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mary

    I read this article on another website and wondered why Cnn wasn't covering it... guess I spoke to soon.
    In any case, Women on Waves, is nothing more than a slaughter house! They are in no shape or form 'ladies'
    And I do believe you must obid by the rules of the country your ship is docked at.

    October 4, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
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