Friends, let me tell you about Rebecca Gomperts.
Rebecca Gomperts is a sea captain, a certified physician, and the founder of Women on Waves, a Dutch pro-choice non-profit organization that brings reproductive health services to women in countries with restrictive abortion laws.
This is how it works:
- Rebecca Gomperts and her team installed a specially constructed mobile clinic aboard a commissioned ship.
- They sail to countries with restrictive abortion laws, answering phone calls and e-mails from women who need another way out.
- Upon landing, they take the women who come to them aboard the ship, and then they take the ship out into international waters.
- There the laws of the flag ship are in effect.
- They then perform non-surgical medical abortions, while walking the women through the process.
- They sail back to shore, and once they depart, they continue to follow up with their patients to ensure they remain healthy and safe.
In response, Rebecca Gomperts and her team have been:
- hit by eggs thrown by physically violent pro-life activists
- met with resistance by government officials of the countries they visit
- been forced to disguise themselves and their patients to save the women who come to them any public shaming (which the media helps to perpetuate)
- and once, harassed by two war ships sent out by the Portuguese military
And yet they continue to answer the calls and e-mails of women who want their help, providing reproductive counseling and teaching them how to circumvent the dangerous laws of their country when necessary.
Director Diana Whitten is telling their story in her documentary, VESSEL. It’s a beautiful doc, a necessary doc, and the film is premiering this week at SXSW. Please show your support for these women on social media. It’s so incredibly important.
Here's VESSEL's facebook page. Here's their twitter. Here's their instagram. Use #VesselLanding to tweet at them.
Women on Waves can be found on their official site, their facebook page, and their twitter.
If you’re in need of reproductive counseling or an abortion service, you can find Women on Wave’s international support and informational collective on Women on Web.
These people are heroes. Rebecca Gomperts is a hero. What they do has and will save countless lives. It’s so incredibly important that their story is told and the struggles of women living in countries governed by restrictive abortion laws (including the United States) are brought to light.