'Abortion Boat' Escorted From Moroccan Waters
Decoy Ship Publicizes Safe Abortion Information
A boat carrying activists from the Dutch group Women on Waves was escorted Thursday by Moroccan police from the waters around the port city of Smir.
Women on Waves sails to countries where abortion is illegal to provide information and abortions on board.
The organization maintains that although abortion is illegal in Morocco under most circumstances, practitioners can still perform the procedures on board.
But Agence France-Press reported that “the country’s health ministry said that the ship would not be allowed to operate in the country and called on the authorities to apply the law against the group and the ship.”
Moroccan police said the boat would not be allowed into the harbor, and sealed it for "military maneuvers," The Huffington Post reported.
Later on Thursday, however, representatives of Women on Waves said they had previously anchored a "Trojan Horse" boat in the harbor, and that boat sailed, waving banners announcing an information hotline about abortion and attempting to hand out fliers on abortion in Arabic and French, according to the organization.
"Of course, we always expect problems, that's part of being involved with Women on Waves," Dr. Gunilla Kleiverda, one of the gynecologists for Women on Waves, told ABC News from Smir Harbor. "The most important thing is to change the law and we make abortion legalized."
Protesters, many of whom carried graphic pictures and shouted "terrorist" and "assasin," were escorted by police, according to Huffington Post.
Women on Waves has previously traveled to Ireland, Poland, Portugal and Spain to perform abortions. This was the group's first visit to a Muslim country.
According to the WomenOnWaves.org website, 600 to 800 women have an illegal abortion each day in Morocco, and 90 women each year die due to lack of safe abortion services.
Hundreds of women have already called the hotline publicized in Smir Harbor, the site states.