Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Morocco barricades port to Dutch 'abortion ship'

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 4th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Morocco has shuttered the port of Smir, blocking the harbor with warships in order to block the entry of a Dutch "abortion ship" to the Islamic country. The ship ran by the Women on Waves group, travels to countries where the procedure is illegal. The ship takes women into international waters to perform the abortions, which are legal under Dutch law, until 6.5 weeks into the pregnancy.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Morocco's Health Ministry says that it had not authorized the vessel's visit or any procedures by nonresident doctors. Abortion remains illegal in Morocco.

Women on Waves doctor Marlies Schellekens told journalists that she and about 10 other members of her group, along with the Moroccan activist group Alternative Movement for Individual Freedoms they were invited to the harbor in Smir.

The main entrance has been blocked by the Moroccan police. Schellekens says that a female Moroccan lawyer representing the group is trying to negotiate with officers to let the group enter. Dutch lawmaker Liesbeth van Tongeren is also with the group, she said.

Women on Waves gynecologist Gunilla Kleiverda, who is aboard the vessel, stressed that point in an interview with CNN on Thursday.

"I will not be practicing as a gynecologist in Morocco," Kleiverda said.

"We are not going to perform any abortions within Morocco. We are sailing out with women to international waters where in the international sea the Dutch law applies," she said.

The Women on Waves group also advocates the use of a drug called misoprostol, which is reportedly available legally in Morocco, to perform abortions up to 12 weeks after conception. The group says it is establishing a phone hotline in Morocco for women to get information on how to perform the abortions at home.

Kleiverda said Moroccan women need access to safe abortions. About 90 women die from illegal abortions in the country every year, she said.

The Women on Waves ship has previously taken the campaign to Ireland, Poland, Portugal and Spain. This marks the group's first attempt to offer abortions in an Islamic country.

The group said on its Web site that it is looking into alternatives to get the ship into port in Morocco after the Smir harbor was blocked.

.

Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)