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Last Updated: Friday, 27 June, 2003, 15:20 GMT 16:20 UK
Abortion ship extends Polish stay
Anti-abortion protesters hold a small symbolic coffin with the name of the Langenort abortion-right ship
Protesters greeted the ship
The crew of a floating Dutch abortion clinic has said that their ship will stay at a Polish port for another week despite protests by opponents.

Rebecca Gomperts of abortion rights campaigners Women on Waves said they had taken the decision because so many women wanted to join their sexual workshops out at sea.

Earlier the ship left the port of Wladyslawowo for international waters with about a dozen Polish women aboard, so that they could receive family planning advice away from Poland's restrictive anti-abortion laws.

The campaigners would not say if they were planning to give the women so-called abortion pills, or emergency contraception, which is banned in deeply Catholic Poland.

RU-486 pills were sealed during a search of the boat on Monday because importing them, distributing them and using them is illegal in Poland
Customs spokeswoman
Jolanta Twardowska
The ship has attracted egg- and paint-throwing protesters and a $3,000 fine since arriving at the port on Sunday.

The BBC's Adam Eason in Warsaw says the visit of the ship, the Langenort, has prompted talk-show discussions, parliamentary debate and vitriolic condemnation from church and conservative political leaders.

Poland has one of Europe's most restrictive anti-abortion laws.

Terminating a pregnancy is only allowed to protect the mother's life, when the foetus is irreparably damaged or if it results from rape or incest.

Pursuit

Anti-abortion campaigners tried to follow the Langenort out of port in a smaller boat, but could not keep up with it, our correspondent says.

The Langenort had not received permission to dock and could still be asked to leave
The boat arrived on Sunday without receiving permission to dock
The commander of the port fined the ship on Wednesday for refusing to identify itself and obey directions.

"The boat [the Langenort] breached procedures for entering the port and did not obey the orders of the port commander," Kazimierz Undro, the commander, said.

"I asked it to move to another part of the port where it would be sheltered from a group of people who were hostile to its arrival," he added.

Advice

The boat - dubbed a floating abortion clinic by Polish demonstrators - arrived in the port on Sunday "to offer Polish women advice on contraceptives".

Polish customs officers searched the ship on its arrival and took measures to prevent distribution of RU-486, the emergency contraception pill.

"RU-486 pills were sealed during a search of the boat on Monday because importing them, distributing them and using them is illegal in Poland," customs spokeswoman Jolanta Twardowska said.

The ship's visit angered Poland's influential Roman Catholic Church and anti-abortion groups that have asked prosecutors to investigate if it violates Poland's law.

In 2001, Women on Waves took another boat to predominantly Roman Catholic Ireland, but called off plans to offer RU-486 following last-minute legal and logistics complications.


SEE ALSO:
No abortions on 'abortion ship'
15 Jun 01  |  Europe
Europe's terms for terminations
02 Jun 02  |  Europe


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