I didn’t travel outside of this country until I was 30 years old. I had such a narrow understanding of the differences of cultures on this planet and really had very little appreciation for the “inalienable rights” I enjoyed as an American. One of those rights is the power over my own reproductive health.
I am not making any statements in this blog: no political statements, no religious statements. The sides are too polarized, and no matter what my personal stance is, I will face vehement opposition, so I’m keeping my opinion out of this.
But there are now, and always have been, unwanted pregnancies, and there have always been women seeking ways to terminate them. And there are many countries in which abortion is illegal, with varying penalties. No matter: women want this option so badly that they are willing to risk their own health, and their own lives and under go “back alley abortions.”
An activist group called Women on Waves now runs a ship that can take patients on board, and perform surgical procedures to terminate pregnancies. The group was founded by a group of Dutch doctors in 1999 to “provide abortions to women in countries where the practice is illegal.”
This week, the government of Morocco escorted the Dutch “abortion ship” out of the harbor in the Moroccan city of Smir. Additionally, while in harbor, the Moroccan government blocked the harbor to prevent residents from accessing the ship.
According to Dr. Gunilla Kleiverda, a Women on Waves doctor, the group was not planning to perform any abortions on women while in Moroccan territories.
Abortion is completely illegal in Morocco. Women on Waves takes women out of countries where abortion is illegal and into international waters where it can, indeed, perform abortions under Dutch law.
Women on Waves also advocates the use of a drug called misoprostol, which IS available legally in Morocco. Misoprostol is a pill, that when taken can induce labor. But taken early in a pregnancy, Misoprostol can induce a medical abortion in lieu of surgical evacuation.
Dr. Kleiverda believes that Moroccan women need safe abortions, which is what Women on Waves provides. She says that about 90 women each year die in Morocco from illegal abortions.
Abortion is a controversial topic with strong views on both sides of the issue in America. But outside of America, whatever your views, where conditions are far worse and liberties may be a more foreign concept, the story of reproductive rights look a little different, a little scarier.
Read more about this incident on CNN: http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2012/10/04/morocco-using-warships-to-block-abortion-vessel-group-says/
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