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Erin Currier

Rebecca Gomperts

Acrylic & mixed media on panel, 24"h x 12"w, Item No. 15154,

Rebecca Gomperts is a physician, artist and women's rights activist. Born in 1966, Gomperts grew up in the harbor town of Vlissengin, Netherlands. She moved to Amsterdam in the 1980s where she studied art and medicine simultaneously. Drawing on her experiences as a resident physician on the Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior II, Gomperts created Women On Waves in order to address the health issues created by illegal abortion. While visiting Latin America on board the Rainbow Warrior II, the organization was inspired by a desire to further facilitate social change and women's health. In some developing countries, as many as 800 illegal, unsafe abortions are performed daily, in contrast to some developed nations, such as the Netherlands, where residents have access to safe, legal, medical abortions and contraception. Women on Waves was created in 1999 in order to bring reproductive health services, particularly non-surgical abortion services, to women in countries with restrictive abortion laws. Other services offered by WoW include contraception and reproductive counseling. Services are provided on a commissioned ship that contains a specially constructed mobile clinic. When WoW visits a country, women make appointments, and are taken on board the ship. The ship then sails out to international waters (where Dutch laws are in effect on board the ship) to perform the medical abortions.

In 2002 the Dutch Health Minister, Els Borst, gave permission to the Women on Waves group to offer pregnant women the abortion pill on board their boat, Aurora. According to Borst the decision was in line with the Dutch government's policy on the issue of sexual independence of women. The permission was given on the condition that the abortion pill would only be used to terminate pregnancies of up to six weeks and would be provided in the presence of a gynecologist.