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All Abort? Dutch Nonprofit Bypasses Abortion Laws With Boat


I've heard of underage drinking and avoiding taxes over international waters, but circumventing abortion laws is a new one. Women on Waves sails to countries where abortion is illegal and provides early-term abortions — legally, thanks to Dutch law, which the ship sails under.

Always a gracious guest, Women on Waves never shows up sans an invite from local women's organizations. And it's latest venture in Spain is no exception. At the request of 33 local organizations, it dropped anchor at a port in Valencia, Spain.

With government initiatives to increase protection for women and doctors performing abortions, it's not surprising Women on Waves chose Spain. Its goal is not simply to provide abortions when they would be otherwise prohibited but also to garner support for legalizing abortion. While Spain decriminalized it in 1985, it's only available in limited cases — up to 12 weeks after rape; up to 22 weeks if the fetus is malformed; and at any time if the women's physical or mental health is jeopardized.

If you ask me this boat doesn't look much safer than a back-room abortion, but I haven't seen the inside. How would you feel if it docked off the US coast?

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