NRC Handelsblad has a long article up about changes in laws around abortion in the Netherlands, which is pushing the amazing organization Women on Waves to cancel upcoming boat trips to provide abortions and information to women who cannot get them in their home countries. Rebecca Gomperts, who founded the organization ten years ago, is interviewed in the piece as well and talks about shifting attitudes toward abortion. Women on Waves was founded with the idea of creating a fleet of ships that would sail to countries in which abortion is illegal, transport women in need of abortions to international waters, and then provide safe abortions outside of the reaches of a nation’s restrictions to abortion. This never quite panned out – the financials needed to underwrite such a huge project would be, well, huge. What the organization has done, however, is another really amazing online activist project: Women on Web. Women on Web helps women gain access to medical abortion if they live in countries where such access is restricted. The site has information in Arabic, Spanish, French, Dutch, Polish, and Portuguese. The organization is now being prosecuted for distributing abortion pills off the coast of Spain in October 2008.
Unfortunately, in addition to the shifting Dutch laws, the work of Women on Web is being further restricted by none other than Google. At the beginning of July, my IWHC co-worker Lori Adelman blogged at Feministing about the fact that Google AdWords policy disallows ads for abortion services in over a dozen countries. (we’ve got a sample letter that you can use to complain to Google about this, should you feel so inclined).
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