Women on Waves is a non-profit organisation whose mission is to "prevent unwanted pregnancy and unsafe abortions throughout the world". It is estimated by the organisation that 20 million illegal, unsafe abortions are performed worldwide resulting in the deaths of some 70,000 women.
Women on Waves. was founded by Dutch doctor Rebecca Gomperts and aims to sail the world in a specially kitted out "abortion ship" named the Aurora. Thus, they hope to foster renewed debate on the issue of abortion in the countries they visit. When performing abortions, the ship will stay 12 miles offshore; Dutch law will then apply onboard.
On board this 35 m (115 ft) vessel will be a container known as the A-portable in which there are ten beds and all the medical equipment necessary to carry out terminations They will also offer contraceptive advice and counselling to prospective patients. It is envisaged that there will be five crew members who may wear bullet proof vests if they find themselves in a hostile situation.
In Europe the countries with the most restrictive abortion laws are Ireland, Poland and Malta. The first port of call for the Aurora is expected to be Dublin and then Cork. Women on Waves also plan to visit such far flung nations as Brazil and the Philippines.
ThePope points out that the Dutch doctors performing abortions aboard are threatened with prosecution back in The Netherlands if clinical standards aboard the ship do not meet requirements under Dutch law (It has not yet been inspected by the Dutch Ministry of Health). Women on Waves have stated they will not perform abortions off Irish shores but instead administer the abortifacient drug RU-486. It is uncertain whether they have the necessary license to offer this drug.