The Dutch Government has given the go-ahead to the Women on Waves group to offer the abortion pill to pregnant women on board their boat, Aurora. The Aurora is due to set sail again for countries where abortion is forbidden.
It will dock in international waters and members of Women on Waves will offer advice and treatment to women who come on board.
The group sparked a storm of protest from pro-life activists last year when they docked off the coast of Ireland, where the practice of abortion is illegal. The first stop for the Aurora – sometimes known as the Sea of Change – will probably be back to Ireland, from where 6,000 women travel to England for abortions each year. The Dutch Health Minister, Els Borst, said the decision to allow Women on Waves to give out the abortion pill was in line with government policy regarding the sexual independence of women. Women on Waves are allowed to offer the drug to terminate pregnancies of up to six weeks, provided a gynaecologist is present. However the group say they will appeal against the decision in the hope of being able to offer clinical abortions to women who are up to three months pregnant. The World Health Organization estimates that 100,000 women die each year from illegal back-street abortions.