Friends, let me tell you about Rebecca Gomperts.
Rebecca Gomperts is a sea captain, a certified physician, and the founder of Women on Waves, a Dutch pro-choice non-profit organization that brings reproductive health services to women in countries with restrictive abortion laws.
This is how it works:
- Rebecca Gomperts and her team installed a specially constructed mobile clinic aboard a commissioned ship.
- They sail to countries with restrictive abortion laws, answering phone calls and e-mails from women who need another way out.
- Upon landing, they take the women who come to them aboard the ship, and then they take the ship out into international waters.
- There the laws of the flag ship are in effect.
- They then perform non-surgical medical abortions, while walking the women through the process.
- They sail back to shore, and once they depart, they continue to follow up with their patients to ensure they remain healthy and safe.
In response, Rebecca Gomperts and her team have been:
- hit by eggs thrown by physically violent pro-life activists
- met with resistance by government officials of the countries they visit
- been forced to disguise themselves and their patients to save the women who come to them any public shaming (which the media helps to perpetuate)
- and once, harassed by two war ships sent out by the Portuguese military
And yet they continue to answer the calls and e-mails of women who want their help, providing reproductive counseling and teaching them how to circumvent the dangerous laws of their country when necessary.
Director Diana Whitten is telling their story in her documentary, VESSEL. It’s a beautiful doc, a necessary doc, and the film is premiering this week at SXSW. Please show your support for these women on social media. It’s so incredibly important.
If you’re in need of reproductive counseling or an abortion service, you can find Women on Wave’s international support and informational collective on Women on Web.
These people are heroes. Rebecca Gomperts is a hero. What they do has and will save countless lives. It’s so incredibly important that their story is told and the struggles of women living in countries governed by restrictive abortion laws (including the United States) are brought to light.
I had a patient in the clinic who really did not want an abortion but who had no resources to cover the costs of prenatal care or childbirth. She was single and without insurance coverage but made just enough money to be ineligible for state assistance. She already had outstanding bills at the hospital and with the local ob-gyn practice. No doctor would see her without payment up front.
We were willing to do the abortion for a reduced rate or for free if necessary. But she really didn’t want an abortion. Once I understood her situation, I went to the phone and called the local ‘crisis pregnancy center.’
"Hello, this is Dr. Wicklund."
Dead silence. I might as well have said I was Satan.
"Hello?" I said again. "This is Dr. Wicklund."
"Hello," very tentatively, followed by another long silence.
"I need help with a patient," I said. She came to me for an abortion, but really doesn’t want one. What she really needs is someone to do her prenatal care and birth for free."
"What do you expect us to do?"
I let that hang for a minute.”
This Common Secret, Susan Wicklund
Crisis Pregnancy Centers often disguise themselves as medical facilities, with advertisements offering “help” with an unplanned pregnancy. Their main goal is to keep the pregnant person from having an abortion at all costs. Usually, all they’ll give you is a free pregnancy test, some baby clothes, and maybe a box of diapers.
The patient referred to in the quote was given free prenatal care and did not have to pay the financial cost of childbirth by a local anti-choice doctor. She would often stop by Dr. Wicklund’s office to let her know how she was doing:
"He (the doctor) always moans and groans about being tricked into [doing this]," she says. "Then he goes off on these tirades against abortion."
"This Common Secret" is such a phenomenal book. And yeah, crisis pregnancy centers are generally evil, so there’s that.
I don’t understand the tumblr-wide obsession with lumpy-faced reptilian oatmeal men.
It baffles me just how many people think these men are the physical embodiment of sex. I know everybody has different tastes in what they find attractive, but I’d be willing to bet the majority of fans wouldn’t give any of these men a second-glance if they were just average, everyday guys walking down the street.
I’m starting to wonder if there’s some sort of tumblr-wide competition that I’m not aware of where everybody looks for the ugliest men in tv or film, then attempts to build the biggest fanbase for them.
Lumpy faced reptilian oatmeal men have ruined my life
That’s a super old picture of Tom though. He’s a lot less oatmealy now.