Abortion ship vows return to Portugal in 2006
13 September 2004 , AMSTERDAM — Despite being denied entry recently, the Dutch abortion ship will return to Portugal in the lead up to the southern European nation's election in 2006.
13 September 2004
AMSTERDAM — Despite being denied entry recently, the Dutch abortion ship will return to Portugal in the lead up to the southern European nation's election in 2006.
Dutch pro-choice group Women on Waves hopes to remind Portuguese voters how the government "used violence" against its ship, newspaper De Telegraaf reported.
Portuguese government deployed two naval vessels at the end of last month to prevent the Dutch abortion ship from entering its waters.
The government in Lisbon warned the navy vessels could use force if the abortion ship attempted to enter Portuguese waters. After a lengthy standoff, the crew of the abortion ship decided to return to the Netherlands.
Group founder Rebecca Gomperts was quoted by a Portuguese newspaper on Sunday as saying that the nation's Defence Minister Paulo Portas had decided "the only way to communicate with us was to use violence".
Abortion is largely illegal in staunchly Catholic Portugal except in cases of medical necessity and the
Women on Waves had hoped to take Portuguese women with an unwanted pregnancy on board its ship and supply them with the abortion pill in international waters, where it can operate under Dutch legislation.
Refused entry to its waters, the abortion ship remained off the coast of Portugal in international waters from some two weeks in a tense standoff with the Portuguese navy, but Women on Waves decided on 9 September to bring the ship back home.
The standoff had prompted Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot to urge the Portuguese government to allow the ship entry, but the request fell on deaf ears. A court later backed the government's decision against allowing the ship to dock.
Despite the ban, Gomperts appeared on Portuguese television explaining to women how they can use medication bought at general pharmacy stores to induce early terminations.
A Portuguese right-to-life group later lodged a criminal complaint, but the Portuguese government has not given any official reaction whether it will start an investigation.
After making a "very disappointing" decision to return to home, Women on Waves said it could only hope it had been able to "reopen the discussion on legal abortion in Portugal".
Women on Waves campaigns for more liberal abortion legislation in countries where it is banned or restricted. It has previously sailed to Ireland and Portugal. No abortions were carried out in Ireland.
The Dutch foundation asserts that a woman around the world dies every six minutes as a result of an illegal and unsafe abortion.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news