Women On Waves has claimed the seas for abortion
For many of us, the idea of a boat with a full crew roving the ocean from port to port, transcending the laws of the land, evokes images of pirate ship. But, instead of looking for lost treasures, the crew behind Women on Waves has claimed the seas for abortion services and women’s health care. In many ways, they could be considered a new brand of pirates, except instead of raiding and pillaging, they’re aggressively seeking reproductive rights justice.
The ocean bound non-profit Women on Waves was originally launched in 1999 by the Dutch physician Rebecca Gomperts, as a way to bring legal abortions and reproductive health services to women in countries with restrictive abortion laws.
Leticia Zenevich, a campaign officer for Women on Waves, tells us about the history of the organization, as well as the practicalities of being what is, effectively, a sailing women’s health clinic. Zenevich explained that traveling in international waters gave Women on Waves the freedom to conduct abortions legally, so long as the boat flew the flag of a country with legal abortion.
“We have two doctors onboard, ob-gyns that have extensive experience in abortion,” Zenevich says. “The abortion offered on the boat is a medical abortion, which means it only takes a pill to have a safe and effective abortion. Abortion with pills is very safe and effective and has low risks of complication.”
Women on Waves has been to Ireland, Poland, Spain, Portugal, Morocco and Guatemala with the boat. They also had drone actions (in which a drone carrying abortion pills has been sent from one country to another) in Poland and Ireland. The justice pirates of safe abortions will continue to travel where they can, when they can.
Photograph: © Unsplash