With a missionary’s zeal, Rebecca Gomperts promotes abortion in countries where it’s illegal. She believes she’s saving the planet from overpopulation, women from unsafe procedures and democracy itself.
In 2001, the Dutch doctor founded Women on Waves and sailed to Ireland with a plan to take pregnant women aboard, sail 12 miles offshore into international waters, administer abortion pills, then sail back to harbor as a means of protesting anti-abortion laws.
She hit a snag when conservatives in Holland, under pressure from the European Union, said she wasn’t licensed. She returned home amid reports that her mission was a publicity “sham.”
But Gomperts didn’t give up. She fund-raised and sailed again – to Poland, Portugal, Spain, and Morocco.
In February, her abortion boat was chased away from Guatemala. “The boat of death has arrived in Guatemala,” Congressman Raul Romero groaned, and President Jimmy Morales ordered the Navy to block abortion advocates from disembarking and prevented Guatemalans from boarding.
Undeterred, Gomperts redirected her crew to Mexico, which also largely restricts abortion.
“What she is doing is essentially a protest worldwide. They go around to countries that limit access to abortion as a publicity stunt,” said Cheryl Sullenger, senior vice president of Operation Rescue. “I think it’s extremely dangerous. They bring people out to the boat and give them an abortion pill and send them home and the abortion boat leaves. There’s no follow-up care. 6-7% of women who take this pill need surgical intervention after. It’s really irresponsible.
“They kill innocent children and leave women vulnerable. They just want to make a point, and they don’t have the best interests of the women in mind.”
If you read about Gomperts online, media accounts lionize her. She was made into a hero by the 2014 film “Vessel.” She is portrayed as persecuted, brave, and altruistic. Stories read eerily similar to accounts of missionaries preaching the gospel in danger of their lives and hounded by hostile people groups.
And she’s been successful. When she was blocked by two Portuguese warships from entering harbor in 2004, she countered by appearing on television. She portrayed herself as the victim and women as victims. Abortion was the answer to patriarchal oppression, she said.
When a participant on TV questioned the legality of her work, she retorted, “I really think you should not talk about things that you don’t know anything about. Concerning pregnancy, you’re a man, you can walk away when your girlfriend is pregnant. I’m pregnant now, and I had an abortion when I was — a long time ago. And I’m very happy that I have the choice to continue my pregnancy how I want, and that I had the choice to end it when I needed it.”
Within two and half years, Portugal legalized abortion, the New York Times reported. Read the rest of the article about the abortion boat.