Abortion ship fights restrictions

14th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

14 July 2004 , AMSTERDAM — The Women on Waves foundation has announced it will fight the restrictions Dutch Health State Secretary Clemence Ross imposed on its abortion ship earlier this week.

14 July 2004

AMSTERDAM — The Women on Waves foundation has announced it will fight the restrictions Dutch Health State Secretary Clemence Ross imposed on its abortion ship earlier this week.

Under the new regulations, the ship may only operate within a radius of 25km from the Slotervaart Hospital in Amsterdam, preventing it from sailing to foreign countries and offering women the abortion pill in international waters.

Doctors on board the ship may provide gynaecological services and provide pregnant women — who are not more than 16 days pregnant — with the abortion pill. Such treatment is not covered by Dutch abortion legislation.

But State Secretary Ross denied the foundation permission to perform abortions on women more than 16 days overdue, overturning an Amsterdam Court decision handed down on 4 June.

Women on Waves founder Rebecca Gomperts is enraged by the restrictions: "We are not going to agree on this. Ross is failing women who cannot go anywhere else because of political fencing".

She was referring to the grassroots support of the centre-right Christian Democrat CDA party. Gomperts stressed to newspaper Het Parool that the CDA is a Christian party and that Ross — a CDA member — has not taken into consideration the women who are affected by her decision.

"State and church must be separate in a democratic constitutional state. Women have the right to choose if they want to end a pregnancy. That is the basis of a democracy, right?"

The abortion permit states that an abortion clinic must have links with a hospital and the average distance between an abortion clinic and a hospital in the Netherlands is 23km. The ship may therefore only operate now within a radius of 25km from Slotervaart Hospital.

Gomperts admitted the abortion ship has links with the Amsterdam hospital, but said this means that the foundation can contact the hospital if it has any questions. In emergencies, women are admitted to the nearest hospital.

She said in every country, hospitals are obligated to help a patient and that the abortion ship can sail to a hospital within 90 minutes. She said the foundation has contacts with doctors or they sail with the ship.

The ship sailed to Ireland in 2002 and Poland in 2003. Abortion is outlawed in Poland and effectively banned in Ireland.

In the Eastern European country, Gomperts claims the arrival of the boat sparked debate over abortion and doctors were able to assist women who were less than 16 days pregnant.

But the foundation was forced to refuse women who were in later stages of their pregnancy. "That was terrible. They were so desperate," Gomperts said, adding that across the world a woman dies of the consequences of an illegal abortion every five to six minutes.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news

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