Making waves – Mixed reception

A Dutch gynecologist and public health advocate plans to offer abortions and other reproductive services 12 miles offshore to women who can’t get them legally at home, The New York Times reported Nov. 21.

Rebecca Gomperts and her Amsterdam-based group, the Women on Waves Foundation, aim to help women and promote a public health issue that much of the world ignores, despite estimates ranging from 60,000 to 100,000 death a year from unsafe abortions.

She and her colleagues need to raise $190,000 to charter a Dutch ship, believing that liberal abortion laws in the Netherlands will prevail in international waters.

They’re building a $50,000 mobile clinic to be placed aboard a ship.

Reaction has been mixed. Concerns for the safety of patients have been voiced by right-to-life and abortion-rights advocates alike.

While giving the plans a warm reception, abortion rights advocates in the U.S. worry about the safety of patients traveling to and from the ship, follow-up care to avoid infection and whether the foundation would be permitted to anchor in some ports to offer training, contraceptives and information.

Another concern is how outsiders can champion patients’ individual rights without appearing to interfere in the culture of native countries, and inadvertently causing a backlash.

For full story, go to The New York Times.

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