Diana Whitten

United States 2014, 88 min.


Spoken language: Dutch, English, Portuguese, Spanish, Swahili

Subtitles: English

Dutch premiere

Festival year: 2015

Dr. Rebecca Gomperts’ abortion ship sails around the world and docks in harbours of countries where abortion is illegal. Through a helpline the Women on Waves staff provides medical advice and mental support to women who face unwanted pregnancy.


Gomperts founded the Women on Waves organisation back in 1999 to help women who wish to terminate their pregnancy but are not legally allowed do so. The organisation literally circumvents the law, since in international waters, the legal provisions of the homeland apply to a Dutch vessel. Abortion onboard is allowed as long as the ship is outside the territorial borders.

The documentary contains archive footage and interviews to show how the foundation was established and how the vessel, which has been turned into an abortion clinic, heads for Ireland, Poland, Morocco and Portugal. The Women on Waves meet with fierce protest everywhere they dock, and Portugal even dispatched a war vessel to prevent them from docking. All the same, the telephone hasn’t stopped ringing and calls for help are pouring in. Meanwhile, the website Women on Web has been launched, containing information about self-induced abortions using medication that is legally available throughout the world.


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