The Dutch organization Women on Waves (WoW) cancelled all upcoming trips of its so-called floating abortion clinic. According to RH Reality Check, the “abortion boat” docked in international waters and provided abortion pills and information about reproductive health to women all over the world.
WoW had special permission from the Dutch Health Minister to distribute abortion pills, but in May the Dutch government restricted distribution of the medication to specially-approved clinics. WoW plans to challenge the decision with a lawsuit. The organization may face another legal battle as the Health Inspection Office is seeking to prosecute WoW for distributing the abortion pill off the coast of Spain in 2008, reports RH Reality Check. Earlier this year, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of WoW in a case brought forward by Portugal, which banned the floating clinic from entering its waters.
Rebecca Gomperts, who founded WoW ten years ago, told NRC Handelsblad that the ship was used as a campaign symbol but no surgical abortions were performed there. “The abortion boat is a myth. There are people who think we provide practical help all over the world. Of course it’s a pretty sight: a ship entering a harbor full of women saying: abortion is a right. And then there will always be people wanting to stop the boat. The result is a symbolic fight that speaks to the imagination…Our only real strategy is letting women know that there is such a thing as the abortion pill,” she said.