GUATEMALA CITY – A boat used by a Dutch non-government organization to provide abortion pills to women in countries where that practice is illegal has been ordered to leave Guatemala, an army colonel told EFE on Friday.
The colonel, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the dock where the so-called “abortion ship” is anchored was private and that the owner had only accepted payment for Thursday night, meaning the boat must leave on Friday.
The controversy over the arrival of the boat, which offers abortion pills in international waters to women who are no more than 10 weeks pregnant, was apparent on social media, in the reaction of the Guatemalan army – which vowed to block the mission – and in legal complaints filed against the Women on Waves organization.
Around six people are on board and prohibited from leaving the boat, which is anchored at the Puerto San Jose harbor, the colonel said, adding that the Women on Waves members had identified themselves as tourists and not as a health organization.
He said they had committed a crime in doing so, prompting one of the complaints.
Women on Waves, for its part, said Friday that its boat had been wrongfully seized by the Guatemalan navy.
“The abortion ship has all required permits to enter, stay and leave Guatemala and has arrived safely yesterday at harbor Marina Pez Vela” in Puerto San Jose, Guatemalan, Women on Waves said in a statement.
The NGO posted a copy of the permit on its Web site and demanded that the boat be released.
The organization provides two abortion pills to women, Mifepristone and Misoprostol, which the NGO says are 99 percent effective in terminating an unwanted pregnancy.
The use of those pills is illegal in Guatemala, where abortion is only permitted if a woman’s life is in danger.