5 Oct 2012

Dutch abortion ship refused entry to port

7:00 am on 5 October 2012

A Dutch ship which was heading for Morocco to offer women medical abortions has been prevented from entering port.

The Women on Waves campaign group says the port of Smir is completely closed and no-one is allowed to enter.

The group provides abortions and advice from boats anchored in international waters near countries where abortion is illegal.

Its ship, the Langenort, left the Netherlands on Monday and was scheduled to dock at Smir on Thursday.

AFP reported that the ministry of health said on Wednesday 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.

In an earlier press release, the group said the ship was able to provide legal medical abortions for women who are up to six-and-a-half weeks pregnant, while it was anchored in international waters.

Over the past 11 years, Women on Waves has visited Ireland, Poland, Portugal and Spain. Morocco is the first Muslim country the group planned to visit.

The group says that, according to figures published by the Moroccan government, between 600 -800 abortions take place every day in the kingdom.