Guatemala on Dutch abortion ship: We will defend "human life and the laws of our country"
24 February 2017
A guard confronts abortion activists from Women on Waves. Image: Reuters/Luis Echeverria.
The Guatemalan army has blocked Women on Waves' attempts to give out abortion pills from a ship, in circumvention of the country's laws.
"The military will not permit this group to carry out its activities in the country," read a formal complaint to the prosecutor's office. The Army said it had been instructed by President Jimmy Morales to act, and would defend "human life and the laws of our country" by preventing the group from carrying out abortions.
A vessel was dispatched to watch the ship and to prevent activists going ashore and women from boarding. The group had planned to pick up five women at a time by dinghy and take them to the ship waiting outside Guatemalan waters. They aimed get around Guatemala's abortion laws by administering drugs in international waters.
Women on Waves said in a statement that their ship was being "detained" illegally by the military, which it accused of "obstructing a lawful protest against the state's restrictions on the Guatemalan women's right to safe abortion."
"The boat of death has arrived in Guatemala"
The arrival of the Dutch ship sparked protests from politicians and Christian groups, and a press conference by the abortion activists was disrupted.
"They say they are fighting for life and human rights, but it looks like murder has become a human right," said a protesting seminary student. "The boat of death has arrived in Guatemala," lawmaker Raul Romero said during a Congress session on Wednesday.
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