Wednesday 06 July 2022

Guatemala stops Dutch boat providing abortions

Photo: Women on Waves

Guatemala blocked entry to a Dutch ship run by the Women on Waves pro abortion organisation on Thursday. The country’s army stopped the boat, which is carrying a supply of abortion pills, citing the country’s constitution.

It was placed in military custody, with seven crew members apparently still aboard, after landing at a private pier 120km south of the capital, Women on Waves spokeswoman Leticia Zenevich told Reuters.

The Dutch organisation provides free abortion services for women up to 10 weeks pregnant, taking them beyond the territorial waters of countries where abortion is illegal.

It offers them an abortion pill, monitors them for several hours, and lands again.

The Guatemalan army said in a statement that it would not allow the organisation to operate due ‘to the constitution regarding the preservation of human life and the laws in effect in our country.’ Local protestors were also filmed at the harbour.

Illegal abortions

In Guatemala, abortion is only legal if a woman’s life is at risk, and Women on Waves claims around 65,000 abortions are performed there illegally each year.

‘Guatemala has been chosen because the laws are very restrictive on the subject of abortion,’ Quetzali Cerezo, director of Women in Equity in the country, was quoted as saying.

This is the first such trip made by the organisation since Morocco blocked a ship from entering a harbour in 2012, Zenevich told Reuters.

The organisation said on its website that it had all the necessary paperwork to be in Guatemalan waters. The authorities are blocking a ‘lawful protest against the state’s restrictions on the Guatemalan women’s right to safe abortion,’ the organisation said.

Thank you for donating to

The team would like to thank all the generous readers who have made a donation in recent weeks. Your financial support has helped us to expand our coverage of the coronavirus crisis into the evenings and weekends and make sure you are kept up to date with the latest developments. has been free for 14 years, but without the financial backing of our readers, we would not be able to provide you with fair and accurate news and features about all things Dutch. Your contributions make this possible.

If you have not yet made a donation, but would like to, you can do so via Ideal, credit card or Paypal.