<alter-ee> Insults and Eggs Greet Abortion Ship in Polish Port

Zaczek alter-ee@lists.most.org.pl
Sun, 22 Jun 2003 20:18:07 +0200


Insults and Eggs Greet Abortion Ship in Polish Port
Sun June 22, 2003 11:33 AM ET
WLADYSLAWOWO, Poland (Reuters) - A hail of eggs, red paint and shouted
insults greeted a shipborne Dutch abortion clinic Sunday when it sailed into
a Baltic fishing port in staunchly Roman Catholic Poland after a two-day
wait.
Members of the right-wing All-Poland Youth and other demonstrating
anti-abortion activists shouted "murderers" and "Gestapo" at the ship,
though a threat by local fisherman to block its entry failed to materialize.

Local news agency PAP quoted harbormaster Kazimierz Udro as saying the ship
had arrived without permission and could be fined and ordered to leave, but
its crew denied the report.

"We have had no official notification of that, so I don't think it's true,"
said Rebecca Gomperts, head of the group Women on Waves, adding that the
ship had been moved to another dock less accessible to the public.

Poland has one of the most strict abortion laws in Europe and Polish Pope
John Paul II, head of the world's billion Catholics and a strong opponent of
abortion, is widely regarded as the country's greatest moral authority.

The Langenort, a tugboat with a container-enclosed surgery on its deck, was
due to arrive Friday but was turned back due to bad weather, though members
of Women on Waves have questioned whether this was the true reason.

Activists of the pro-Catholic League of Polish Families (LPR) have notified
authorities of alleged crimes by the Women on Waves campaigners including
the import into Poland of a banned abortion pill, LPR MP Robert Strak said
Saturday.

Polish law permits abortions only if pregnancy is a threat to a woman's
health, if the fetus is damaged or after rape.

The law has changed several times since the 1989 fall of communism,
reflecting power shifts between right-wing governments and the
post-communist left, which has liberalised abortion law.

Before Poland's referendum on European Union membership two weeks ago the
left-wing government avoided the issue in what was widely seen as a deal to
ensure church support for a "yes" vote.

But since the successful poll the issue has re-emerged, with a group of MPs
from the ruling party calling for liberalisation.