No welcome for Dutch abortion boat

A Dutch boat dubbed an “abortion clinic” by Polish media docked in the staunchly Catholic country amid the throwing of eggs and red paint from protestors who do not want the family planning organisation to enter Poland.

    Poland has some of the toughest 
     laws on abortion in Europe

    Police were called to the port to prevent clashes between the protestors and the crew of the boat.

    "The boat entered the Wladyslawowo port as a fishing boat tried to prevent it from doing so," said Justyna Wlodarczyk, a Polish activist who was involved in bringing the boat to Poland.

    She said a group of about 200 protestors threw eggs and red paint at the boat from the pier.

    "We fear for the boat's security. This is a delicate situation," she added.

    The boat, the Langenort, is owned by the Dutch foundation Women on Waves, which says it sent it to focus attention on Poland's abortion law, one of Europe's most restrictive.

    The crew is in Poland to provide information on family planning for women and will not be providing abortions while on Polish territory, organisers said.

    "We won't terminate any pregnancies because this is banned under Polish law," said Margaret Moore, a spokeswoman for the Dutch foundation.

    The boat arrived on Poland's northern shores overnight Friday, immediately sparking fierce reaction from the conservative and largely Catholic country.

    Gdansk Archbishop Tadeusz Goclowski, described it as an attempt to "kill Poles."

    Polish President Aleksandr Kwasniewski told state radio that the arrival of the boat "presents a legal and moral problem."   

    "Each of us has to make his own moral judgement. Mine is 100 percent negative," Kwasniewski said Saturday.

    The ultra-conservative Polish League of Families (LPR) has asked prosecutors to ban the boat from docking anywhere in Poland and to arrest its crew members for "instigating crime."

    LPR sympathisers say they plan on photographing women who go on board, LPR deputy Robert Strak said, adding the pictures would then be used as "evidence in trials for violations of the anti-abortion law."

    Introduce in 1997, Poland's abortion law, is considered the most repressive in Europe – on par with Ireland's, another staunchly Catholic nation.

    Polish law allows abortion until week 12 of a pregnancy. But only if there has been rape, incest, if the mother's health is at risk, or if the foetus risks irreversible malformation.

    Women themselves do not face prosecution but physicians who perform illegal abortions face two years in jail.


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