Dutch FM urges Portugal to admit abortion ship
2 September 2004
AMSTERDAM — In a bid to break a tense standoff in international waters, Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot asked Portugal on Thursday to allow a Dutch abortion ship to enter Portuguese territory.
In a telephone conversation with his Portuguese counterpart, Antonio Monteiro, the Christian Democrat CDA minister also said a Dutch parliamentary majority is urging Portugal to allow the ship to take on board Portuguese women.
The abortion ship is currently off the Portuguese coast in international waters, and Portugal has said it is willing to use force if necessary to prevent the ship from entering its territory.
Under the wing of the Dutch foundation Women on Waves, doctors on board the ship hope to provide the abortion pill to Portuguese women in international waters, where they can operate under Dutch legislation which allows such treatment. They also hope to distribute information.
Abortion is illegal in staunchly-Catholic Portugal except in situations where the mother’s life is in danger. Termination is also allowed if there is a risk to the woman’s physical or mental health, or in conditions such as sexual violence or possible congenital deformity.
The abortion ship set sail last month from the Dutch port Den Helder, but was blocked from entering Portuguese waters on 28 August. Portuguese navy vessels are monitoring it.
And in an emergency debate on Wednesday, Dutch MPs asked Bot to intervene in the standoff on the side of Women on Waves, newspaper De Telegraaf reported.
Bot said in his conversation with Monteiro that Portugal was within its rights to refuse entry to the ship, but said he wanted to make an attempt to persuade the Portuguese government to change its mind.
Monteiro said he would discuss the issue with the Portuguese Prime Minister, Pedro Santana Lopes
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch new