The Guatemalan authorities say they are expelling members of a non-profit “abortion boat” docked on its shores.

Officials said they had lied when they applied for tourist visas and would not be allowed to work in Guatemala.

The Dutch group, Women on Waves, offers free abortion services to women in countries where the procedure is banned.

It takes women in the early stages of pregnancy out to international waters, where the abortion is performed.

Abortion is only allowed in Guatemala when the mother’s life is at risk.

A spokeswoman for Women on Waves confirmed that they had been told to leave the country immediately, but she said its lawyers had appealed against the decision.

La Prensa Libre newspaper said the four crew members being expelled were US citizens.Members of the Dutch organization Women on Waves can be seen on the group's

It is not clear if other members of the group have also been ordered to leave the country.

‘Fundamental right’

The Army said on Thursday 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.

The Women on Waves’ boat docked on the Pacific Ocean port of Quetzal, in the city of San Jose, on Wednesday.

The group says it had a legal permit to sail in Guatemalan waters and the boat was being illegally “detained” by the authorities.

The group says more than 60,000 illegal abortions are performed in Guatemala every year, and most of the women who put their lives at risk at the hands of untrained professionals are poor.

“We respect religious beliefs but this [abortion] is a fundamental right in a democracy,” spokeswoman Leticia Zevich told La Hora Newspaper.

However, Guatemala’s Catholic Church, other religious leaders and politicians protested against the presence of the boat.

In most Latin American countries, abortion is either illegal or only allowed to save the life of the woman.

Source: BBC


Twenty countries aim to raise $600m to fill gap left by Donald Trump’s ban on funding for pro-abortion NGOs in developing world

 Netherlands minister of foreign trade and development cooperation Lilianne Ploumen


Lilianne Ploumen, the Dutch international development minister, is leading an international campaign to raise $600m (£480m) to compensate for the Trump administration’s ban on funding for NGOs that provide abortion or information on the procedure to women in developing countries.

Belgium, Denmark and Norway have joined the Netherlands in pledging $10m each, while at least 15 other countries are preparing to join the scheme, including Canada, Cape Verde, Estonia, Finland and Luxembourg.

The British government has yet to declare whether it will sign up to the initiative, prompting concerns from British Labour MPs that Trump’s ban could undermine the Department for International Development’s work in promoting the health and education of poor women around the world.

Ploumen said she had contacted the international development secretary, Priti Patel, and her DfID predecessor, Justine Greening, who serves as minister for women and equalities.

The British government and the Netherlands were working closely on international family planning topics, Ploumen said, voicing hope that the UK would join the latest initiative. “It is up to them to voice their support. They are a strong partner in all of this so I do hope they will be able to join.”

“The UK has been a great champion of international cooperation and not only when there were Labour leaders in charge,” she said, praising David Cameron and Theresa May.

The Dutch government wants donors to step in to support family planning programmes.

Campaigners fear the ban will choke off funding for maternal health services and work to combat Aids, malaria and the Zika virus.

Already, 3m unsafe abortions for 15- to 19-year-old girls are carried out each year, the World Health Organisation estimates, leading to lasting health problems and, in some cases, the mother’s death.

The Dutch minister voiced optimism that a coalition of international donors – governments, foundations, companies and individuals – could raise the money, despite tepid responses to international fundraising drives for humanitarian emergencies in Syria and Yemen.

The $600m goal was a “very ambitious target” that “signalled the US has been a great partner in the last years”. But she acknowledged that countries were struggling to “make ends meet and it is really unfortunate that the US has now given us another challenge”.

The Dutch government has also approached US foundations. A few individuals have handed over money in envelopes to the Dutch embassies in Washington and London, prompting the creation of the fundraising page at SheDecides.com

NGOs have praised the Dutch government and other countries, but fear the plan may not go far enough..

”We are counting on the UK government to continue supporting the family planning cause” Irene Donadio, IPPF

“We are witnessing a new version of the global gag rule,” said Irene Donadio, an expert at the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). “It has been enormously expanded and that will affect expenditure on all global health programmes. We know that at a minimum it could be $600m a year, but it could be much more.

“We admire and support those governments who want to stand up for women and their dignity, but we are not sure this will fill the gap or how quickly it will fill the gap.”

The IPPF had “always admired the UK’s commitment to family planning”, but “could not help noticing that the UK has not been very vocal [on the global gag],” Donadio added. “We are counting on the UK government to continue supporting the family planning cause.”

A DfID spokeswoman did not address a question about whether the UK would contribute to the international fund, saying: “The UK is a global leader on family planning, sexual and reproductive health and rights. We are continuing to work closely with partners, including governments and civil society, to deliver this, and are stepping up our leadership even further by hosting a major international summit this summer to secure commitments that increase access to family planning services for women and girls in the world’s poorest and most fragile countries.”

Aid experts have voiced concern that Brexit will damage Britain’s international development role, by eroding budgets and prompting an isolationist turn.

But Ploumen voiced optimism that the UK would not shrink from its promises. “Listening to your prime minister, she has voiced the importance of Britain in the world on several occasions, and international solidarity is part and parcel, I would assume, of that relationship with the rest of the world.

“If you are a trading nation, if you are an open economy like the UK and the Netherlands, there is a deep interest in a stable world.”

Source: The Guardian



A bill introduced in Montana on Monday would effectively make abortionsillegal after 24 weeks, with no exceptions for cases in which the pregnant woman’s life is at risk.

Senate Bill 282 sets fetus viability, the ability of the fetus to survive outside of the uterus, at 24 weeks. If the woman’s life is at risk, her doctor would need to induce labor or deliver the fetus by caesarean section, and do “everything medically possibly to support the fetus,” according toMissoulian. Abortions after 24 weeks would be a felony.

Republican Sen. Albert Olszewski, the sponsor of the bill, said its intent was to ensure a woman whose pregnancy puts her life is at risk terminates the pregnancy “with the safest medical procedures available,” according to Great Falls Tribune.

Other supporters said the bill avoids debate by focusing on only viable fetuses and said new medical technology is capable of supporting fetuses sooner than Roe v. Wade‘s accepted viability between 24 and 28 weeks. According to Slate, however, fetuses born in the 24th week of pregnancy only have a 42 percent chance of survival, whereas a fetus born at 30 weeks has a 90 percent chance of survival.

At the bill’s hearing, opponents cited cases that make the bill unconstitutional. SK Rossi, director of advocacy and public policy at ACLU Montana, said Planned Parenthood v. Danforth and Colautti v. Franklin prohibited states from establishing a standard for fetal viability.

Rossi also cited the decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in which the Supreme Court ruled that states cannot use the argument of “protecting the health of a woman” to shut down abortion clinics without evidence.

Martha Stahl, president of Planned Parenthood of Montana, said the bill “replaces physician’s judgment with political ideology” and is dangerous for women.

The Senate committee is expected to vote on the bill soon, possibly this week.

Source: The Daily Dot


Laura found out she was pregnant in December.

Laura found out she was pregnant in December.

Liz Marmo/Supplied

“I have a three-year-old son who I have raised essentially as a single parent, and I wasn’t in a position to be a single parent to another child,” the 26-year-old, who lives in Albury on the NSW-Victoria border, told BuzzFeed News.

“I was in the process of getting ready to leave the relationship and the pregnancy didn’t change that.”

There is only one abortion provider in Albury, a fertility clinic that is only open on Thursdays.

Each Thursday morning anti-abortion protesters gather outside with signs and plastic foetus dolls. The dolls are handed to women coming in to the clinic in a bid to dissuade them from having an abortion.

One of the regular picketers also sprays “holy water” along the footpath outside the clinic.

One of the regular picketers also sprays “holy water” along the footpath outside the clinic.

Liz Marmo/Supplied

Laura knew she wanted a surgical abortion.

“Termination was definitely the only option because I am a very maternal person and I knew that if I went down the adoption route I would keep the child and I am not in a position to do that.”

But a member of Laura’s extended family is one of the regular protesters outside the clinic.

“I knew I couldn’t go there when a relative of mine was going to be standing out the front of the clinic hassling me not to go in,” she said.

“I knew I couldn’t face that.”

Laura feared the man would tell other people in her extended family and friends that she had visited the centre.

Laura feared the man would tell other people in her extended family and friends that she had visited the centre.

We Need A Bigot Exclusion Zone Right Here Right Now/Facebook

“No one is stopping [the protesters] from telling other people who they saw there that day, and at the time I was really concerned with people knowing that I was making that decision,” she said.

“I felt like my privacy would be taken away from me.”

Because Laura was still at an early enough stage of her pregnancy, she was able to opt for a medical abortion instead. Last month she went to the GP to get abortion drug RU486.

“Now that I have had a medical [abortion] I would have definitely preferred to go the surgical route, because you have to see it happen and I didn’t want that.”

Abortion is still a crime for women and doctors in NSW and is only lawful if a doctor believes a woman’s physical and/or mental health are in serious danger. Social and economic factors may also be taken into account.

Laura has always been pro-choice but said the experience gave her a “different perspective” on the barriers women in NSW face when making decisions about their own bodies.

“It seemed really unfair to me because [the clinic] should be a safe place for women,” she said.

“No one should be able to take that right away from you.”

A bill to decriminalise abortion and enact 150 metre exclusion or “safe access” zones around abortion providers to protect patients against “ongoing harassment, abuse and intimidation” was introduced to NSW parliament by Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi in August.

NSW Labor MP Penny Sharpe has also initiated a private member’s bill for safe access zones.

Laura supports the move to decriminalise abortion but believes safe access zones don’t go far enough, and that religious protesters should be banned from clinics altogether.

Laura supports the move to decriminalise abortion but believes safe access zones don't go far enough, and that religious protesters should be banned from clinics altogether.

Liz Marmo/Supplied

“Every woman who faces the same choice has to be handed plastic [foetal] dolls and pamphlets,” she said.

“I don’t think women go in there making a decision lightly and these people are making what is a hard decision even harder.”

About 500 metres south of the clinic, across the NSW border into Victoria, women seeking abortions and staff at fertility clinics no longer have to navigate through protesters to the front door.

In 2015 Victoria followed Tasmania and the ACT in passing legislation to establish safe access zones.

Source: Buzzfeed


Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, attends the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, January 18, 2017. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, attends the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, January 18, 2017. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

Norway has joined an international initiative to raise millions of dollars to replace shortfalls left by U.S. President Donald Trump’s ban on U.S.-funded groups worldwide providing information on abortion.

In January, the Netherlands started a global fund to help women access abortion services, saying Trump’s “global gag rule” meant a funding gap of $600 million over the next four years, and has pledged $10 million to the initiative to replace that.

Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, Canada and Cape Verde have all also lent their support.

“The government is increasing its support for family planning and safe abortion by 85 million Norwegian crowns ($10 million) compared with 2016,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg said.

“At a time when this agenda has come under pressure, a joint effort is particularly important,” she said in a statement.

Last month, Trump reinstated a policy requiring overseas organizations that receive U.S. family-planning funds to certify they do not perform abortions or provide abortion advice as a method of family planning.

Source: Reuters


Norma McCorvey did not live to see the case overturned. But today’s abortion access may more closely resemble the country of her youth than she imagined


In 1998, Norma McCorvey, the “Jane Roe” in the Roe v Wade supreme court decision, testified before a group of senators about the case fought in her name 25 years earlier. “I am dedicated,” she said, “to spending the rest of my life undoing the law that bears my name.”

McCorvey did become an activist against abortion rights, although she wouldn’t live to see Roe, which in 1973 established a right to abortion, overturned. She died on Saturday in Katy, Texas, at the age of 69.

Knowing the end was near, McCorvey gave her friends and fellow activists a mission the day before she died, according to her friend Janet Morana. “She wanted to tell everyone to continue the fight,” said Janet Morana, executive director of Priests for Life.

But while McCorvey died in a country still shaped by the case that bears her pseudonym, the practical realities of abortion access may more closely resemble the country of her youth than she imagined.

Anti-abortion activists began to chip away at Roe v Wade almost as soon as the supreme court handed the decision down. In 1976, Congress began prohibiting poor women from using Medicaid to cover abortions. Conservative state lawmakers have unleashed a tidal wave of abortion restrictions, such as an Ohio law signed in December, that make the procedure more difficult to obtain. The most effective of these laws forced abortion clinics to close down. Since 2011, abortion clinics have closed at a record pace of more than 30 clinics per year.

McCorvey wasn’t a soldier in the early battles. In the 1980s, she revealed her identity publicly and spent time volunteering in a Dallas abortion clinic and taking part in abortion rights rallies. It wasn’t until 1995, when she converted to evangelical Christianity – later, to Catholicism – that she began to join activists who wanted abortion to be abolished.

For the most part, she was active with religious groups and ordinary people who wanted to see abortion outlawed as quickly as possible. Occasionally, she lent her name to legal efforts that challenged Roe head-on. In 1997, she wrote a friend-of-the-court brief in a long-shot case claiming Roe had led to untold numbers of coerced abortions, and must be overturned.

The most successful contingent of the anti-abortion movement had long since left those tactics behind. In 1984, at a conference sponsored by Americans United for Life, a participant proposed what would become the movement’s most powerful weapon against Roe: laws that allowed the courts to chisel away at its doctrine.

It is a strategy that has proved highly effective. Activists have sufficiently narrowed Roe so that states can require women seeking an abortion to attend anti-abortion counseling; require minors seeking an abortion to receive the permission of one or both parents; require women to wait 24 hours or more before receiving an abortion; extensively regulate abortion after 20 weeks; and block public funding for abortion.

All the while, fewer women have found they needed abortions. This year, US researchers announced that the proportion of pregnancies that ended in abortion had reached its lowest point since the supreme court decided Roe v Wade. The decline was largely due not to new abortion restrictions, they believed – with the exception of unconstitutional laws that forced clinics to close – but to more effective and widely available methods of contraception.

Anti-abortion activists have credited the low abortion rate to the triumph of their tactics and rhetoric, and have largely hailed the Republican takeover of Congress and the White House. The party has historically aided their fight against abortion rights, and its leaders have announced plans to gut widespread access to contraception and place new restrictions on abortion.

All of this, of course, is achieved with an eye toward overturning Roe v Wade. Donald Trump, in his election-season efforts to win the support of anti-abortion groups, promised to appoint judges to the supreme court who would be open to overturning the decision. Many legal experts are skeptical, however, given the amount of precedent that now exists to protect abortion rights, that overturning Roe v Wade is even possible.

With this in mind, anti-abortion campaigners have noted the difference between overturning Roe v Wade and making it as though Roe v Wade had never happened. Activist groups and conservative lawmakers have shown that they can achieve one without the other.

Twenty-one states have laws allowing a parent to all but prevent minors from having abortions. The ban on using Medicaid to cover abortion has foreclosed the option of abortion to at least 1 million women. The closure of half of Texas’ abortion clinics, under a law that was later ruled unconstitutional, caused a 50% drop in abortions in areas where the distance to the nearest clinics suddenly increased by more than 100 miles.

Owing to a record number of clinic closures, thousands of women each year travel great distances for abortions and even cross state lines. An unknown number of women have attempted to perform their own abortions, including some who have tried to do so with sharp objects. The difficulties begin to recall a time before abortion was legal in all 50 states.

Two years ago, one abortion provider reflected on the changes, saying: “Sometimes, I feel like I’ve gone back 40-some years.”

Source: The Guardian



Republican Oklahoma lawmaker who defended his description of pregnant women as “hosts” won approval on Tuesday for his bill that would require women seeking an abortion to first receive written consent from the father.

The state House Public Health Committee voted 5-2 in favour of the bill by Rep. Justin Humphrey, despite Mr Humphrey’s own concession that it might be unconstitutional. It now proceeds to the full House, where it’s likely to pass if granted a hearing.

“The thing I wanted to spark in a debate is that fathers have a role. Exactly where that role is, I’m not sure,” said Mr Humphrey. “I’m proud that I’ve gotten a chance to start the conversation.”

The bill would require women seeking an abortion to provide the name of the father and would prohibit her from going through with it without his written informed consent. It also would allow the father to demand that a paternity test be performed and would provide exceptions in cases where the woman is the victim of rape or incest or if the pregnancy would endanger her life.

Mr Humphrey acknowledged the bill might not pass constitutional muster, but said he wanted to ensure that fathers had a role in the abortion process.

Tamya Cox, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Great Plains, said the US Supreme Court already ruled against requirements to notify the father in a 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey.

“Courts have said that states cannot create undue burdens and create unnecessary obstacles when it comes to a woman’s right to access abortion,” Ms Cox said. “To waste taxpayer dollars on bills like this does not represent what’s best for Oklahomans.”

Ms Cox also lambasted Mr Humphrey for referring to women as “hosts,” a comment she said was inflammatory and unacceptable but which Mr Humphrey defended again on Tuesday.

“I think I used the proper verbiage. When I used the term host, it’s not meant to degrade women,” Mr Humphrey said. “If there’s better verbiage out there, I will gladly use better verbiage. I just couldn’t find it.”

I think I used the proper verbiage. When I used the term host, it’s not meant to degrade women. If there’s better verbiage out there, I will gladly use better verbiage. I just couldn’t find it.Justin Humphrey

The same committee on Tuesday also approved a separate measure prohibiting abortions based on the diagnosis of a fetal abnormality or Down syndrome.

Oklahoma’s Republican-led Legislature has passed some of the country’s most far-reaching anti-abortion legislation, but at least five of the proposals have been tossed by the courts in the last six years. Three additional bills remain tied up in court.

At least 11 anti-abortion bills have been introduced this session, including one that classifies the procedure as first-degree murder, but it’s unlikely many of those will reach the governor’s desk. The Legislature last year approved a bill to make it a felony punishable by up to three years in prison for anyone who performs an abortion, but Republican Governor Mary Fallin vetoed it, saying it was clearly unconstitutional.

Source: The Telegraph