Women on Waves
Women on Waves (WoW) is a Dutch pro-choice non-profit organization created in 1999 by Dutch physician Rebecca Gomperts, in order to bring reproductive health services, particularly non-surgical abortion services, to women in countries with restrictive abortion laws. Other services offered by WoW include contraception and reproductive counseling. Services are provided on a commissioned ship that contains a specially constructed mobile clinic. When WoW visits a country, women make appointments, and are taken on board the ship. The ship then sails out to international waters (where Dutch laws are in effect on board the ship) to perform the medical abortions.
Rebecca Gomperts is a doctor, artist and women's human rights activist. Born in 1966, Gomperts grew up in the harbor town of Vlissingen, Holland. She moved to Amsterdam in the 1980s where she studied art and medicine simultaneously. Drawing on her experiences as a resident doctor on the Greenpeace vessel under Capt. Bart J. Terwiel Rainbow Warrior II , Gomperts created WoW in order to address the health issues created by illegal abortion. While visiting Latin America on board the Rainbow Warrior II, the organization was inspired by a desire to further facilitate social change and women's health. In some developing countries, as many as 800 illegal, unsafe abortions are performed daily, in contrast to some developed nations, such as the Netherlands, where residents have access to safe, legal, medical abortions and contraception. In collaboration with Atelier von Lieshout, she designed a portable gynaecology unit called "A-portable" that can be installed on rented ships. The stated goals of the organization are to raise awareness and stimulate discussion about laws regarding abortion which they allege to be restrictive, as well as to provide safe, non-surgical abortions for women who live in countries where abortion is illegal.
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WoW sailed the Langenort to Poland in 2003. Poland's official polling company, Centrum Badania Opinii Spolecznej, found that prior to WoW's visit, 44% of the population supported the liberalization of abortion laws, and that after the visit, the percentage rose to 56%.
"On October 18, a group of 40 feminists gathered to counter the pro-life protests, which brought out four times as many people. They passed out boxes of matches with the picture of a burning church and the caption, 'The only church that brings light is the one that burns. Join us!'
On October 19, the feminists met again to distribute matches but decided to disband after they were overwhelmed by the large number of pro-life protestors who gathered at the port where the abortion ship was docked."
As the ship attempted to dock amid both pro-life and pro-choice protesters, harbor patrol agents manning a small boat lassoed a rope around the helm of the ship and attempted to pull it away from the dock.
On October 3, 2012, the Moroccan health ministry implemented a ban preventing the entry of the Women on Waves ship "Langenort" into the port of Smir.
- women on waves.org Women on waves website
- Vessel Documentary film about Women on Waves
- Feminist Daily news on the Portugal Issue
- JANERA.com Woman on a Wave: Talking to Rebecca Gomperts, Interview by Janera Soerel
- Corbett, Sara (Aug. 26 2001), http://www.bard.edu/hrp/resource_pdfs/corbett.gomperts.pdf
|contribution-url=missing title (help), Rebecca Gomperts Is Trying to Save the World for Abortion, NY: The New York Times Magazine
- Ferry, Julie (Nov. 14, 2007), The abortion ship's doctor, UK: Guardian, retrieved 2008-11-14
- Chocano, Carina. "The "abortion boat" steams toward Ireland". Salon.com. Retrieved 2008-02-01.
- Frenkiel, Olenka; Agnew, Lara (Oct. 26 2003), http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/correspondent/3187614.stm
|contribution-url=missing title (help), in O'Connor, Karen, Abortion Ship, UK: BBC News
- "Women on Waves Cleared of Accusations in Poland". Wire story. Feminist Daily News. November 6, 2003. Retrieved 2008-02-01.