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Members of the Dutch organization Women on Waves can be seen on the group's "abortion ship" as it visits the Pez Vela Marina in the port of San Jose, Escuintla department, 120 km south of Guatemala City, on February 23, 2017. (JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Women on Waves

Guatemalan army blocks ‘abortion boat’ from providing service to needy citizens

By WITW Staff on February 24, 2017

Women on Waves, a Dutch non-profit group that provides “safe and legal abortions services” to women in countries where the procedure is banned by boating them off-shore into international waters to undergo procedures, has reportedly been blocked in Guatemala after an order from the country’s president.

The Women on Waves’ boat docked outside of San Jose on Wednesday and planned to stay in the country for five days. According to the group, the boat has been illegally “detained” by authorities there. The Guatemalan army, in a statement, said the so-called “abortion boat” — a modestly-sized sail boat — has been blocked so as to defend “human life and the laws of our country.” Reports have said that officials are preventing women from boarding the boat, and not allowing activists to leave it.

Women on Waves claims that more than 60,000 abortions are performed illegally in Guatemala every year, and that the predominantly Catholic country’s ban on the practice puts the lives of poor women at risk.

“We respect religious beliefs but this [abortion] is a fundamental right in a democracy,” said spokeswoman Leticia Zevich.

Guatemala’s Catholic Church and several politicians have protested against allowing the organization into the country. On Wednesday, congressman Raul Romero described Women on Waves as “the boat of death.”

Read the full story at BBC News.


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