Naval forces of Guatemala seized a ship belonging to Women on Waves -- a Dutch organization that provides abortions on the high seas. The group was committing abortions on women who were 10 weeks pregnant or less just outside the territorial waters of Guatemala. Guatemala allows abortions in cases where the life of the mother is endangered. The Guatemalan navy also blocked access to the boat before Women on Waves held a press conference in the Port of San Jose on the Pacific coast of the Central American republic.
Catholic seminarian Gil Hernández shouted at the press conference “This isn’t a pro-life ship,” and added that Women on Waves “say they favor life and human rights, but it appears that murder has become a human right!” A group of evangelical Christians shouted “Abortion is murder!” The press conference then quickly came to an end.
The Guatemalan navy issued a statement contending that the group was violating the country’s law enshrining the "right to life.” On Twitter, Women on Waves’ founder, Rebecca Gomperts, wrote that Guatemala has acted contrary to law, adding that it had permission to enter the country. However, their ship is now seized by Guatemala. On board are six women who work for the Dutch group. One of them is a citizen of the Netherlands.
Since the abortion ship appeared at a marina at the Moroccan town of Smir in 2012, Guatemala is the first destination for the abortion ship. Guatemalans, where both the Catholic Church and various other Christian denominations are prevalent, were outraged by the ship’s presence. At one protest rally, one person shouted, “Go back to the Netherlands to murder kids!”
According to Women on Waves, the group had decided to go to Guatemala because it alleges that 65,000 illegal abortions are committed annually in the tiny country. Abortions are accomplished on board the ship through the application of an abortion pill. The women, who are at 10 weeks of pregnancy or less, are then observed by physicians onboard.
In 2015, the controversial group sent abortion drugs to Poland via drone.
The leader of the Catholic Church in Guatemala, Bishop Gonzalo de Villa y Vásquez of Sololá-Chimaltenango said that the Dutch on board the boat are committing “murder.” He told the press, “This is an affront to the sovereignty and dignity of the nation with regard to our laws. As the Catholic Church, we believe that this is very offensive that this entity should come to practice abortions that are, after all, murder, which they call women’s reproductive rights.” The churchman reiterated that Christians value human life, saying, “Our churches and people never support abortion. We embrace life.”
According to Bishop de Villa y Vásquez, Women on Waves are endangering the country. “They are treating us like a third-rate banana republic. We are offended that that this invasion should try to circumvent Guatemalan law through trickery and making a show at the port.”
Members of the evangelical Christian community also denounced Women on Waves. The president of Guatemala’s Evangelical Alliance, César Vásquez, said that the abortions committed by Women on Waves are a “crime against humanity.”
In the Guatemalan national legislature, lawmakers advanced a resolution to denounce abortions carried out by Women on Waves. Guatmalan Deputy Raúl Romero shouted in the chamber, “The ship of death has arrived in Guatemala!.”
Onboard the sailboat were activists from Austria, Brazil, Germany, Guatemala, Netherlands, and Spain, who planned to pick up Guatemalan women on shore and take them to international waters to commit abortions.