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The BBC's health correspondent Karen Allen
The Dutch floating clinic's arrival was a low-key affair"
 real 56k

The BBC's Jane Hughes in Dublin
"The ship says it will not be carrying out illegal abortions"
 real 56k

Michael Cox, Bishop of the Latin Tridentine Church
responds to the docked ship
 real 28k

Joke Van Kampen from Women on Waves
"We have invitations from many countries where abortion is a problem"
 real 28k

Friday, 15 June, 2001, 08:44 GMT 09:44 UK
Abortion ship ready for Dublin campaign

The trawler's arrival generated intense media interest
Pro-choice activists behind a controversial 'floating abortion clinic' which arrived in Dublin on Thursday are expected to give more details of their planned activities in Ireland later today.

The 35-metre (115-foot) converted fishing trawler Aurora docked on the river Liffey on Thursday after a four-day voyage from the Netherlands.

We consider the lack of safe and accessable abortions as a violation of the human rights of women

Joke Van Kampen, Women on Waves
Doctors on the ship had planned to offer women the opportunity to have an abortion outside Irish territorial waters, but reports say it now seems unlikely that this will go ahead.

But a spokeswoman for the organisers said that some of the aims of the trip had already been achieved by drawing attention to the abortion laws in Ireland - the most restrictive in the European Union.

Abortions are illegal in the Republic of Ireland except under extreme circumstances.

The clinic - which will be under 24-hour guard - is expected to dispense contraceptives and family planning advice before heading for Cork later in its 10-day stay.

The Dutch doctor in charge of the project, Rebecca Gomperts, said she was there to support Irish women's rights to free choice.

The Amsterdam-based Women on Waves Foundation say they have had dozens of inquiries from Irish women about the service.

Publicity stunt

But the ship's visit, which was delayed by bad weather, has sparked a ferocious backlash from anti-abortionist campaigners, who have attacked it as a "publicity stunt".

Dutch anti-abortion campaigners
Anti-abortionists have attacked the visit
Geraldine Martin, of the Pro-Life Campaign group in Ireland, condemned the organisers' "hysterical approach".

She told the BBC: "They appear to be very much in denial of the emotion, harm and heartbreak endured by women following abortions ... [and] very much in denial of the whole humanity of the child."

The Dutch Government has also warned that the doctors on board have no licence to perform abortions, and may face prosecution.

However Joke Van Kampen, a spokeswoman for the Women on Waves Foundation, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that there were no laws which banned their activities.

She the way to reduce abortion rates was good sex education and free contraception, not making termination illegal.

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See also:

14 Jun 01 | Europe
Abortion ship in stormy waters
27 May 01 | Northern Ireland
Bishop calls for abortion referendum
16 May 01 | Americas
House backs Bush on abortion
05 Apr 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Ireland
30 Jun 99 | World population
Viewpoints: Population control
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