Created in 1999 by Dutch physician Rebecca Gomperts, Women on Waves is an organization most well known for providing abortions on a boat. The organization travels to places where the procedure is illegal or inaccessible, picks up people seeking abortion, and takes them 12 miles out into international waters, where the laws of Netherlands, the boat’s home country, apply. Once there, the boat’s medical professionals provide various reproductive health services, including abortion. To learn more about Women on Waves, check out their website.
Considering that there is just one abortion ship in the world, it is a very good thing that abortion pills can travel by mail with relative ease. Or at least for now. Although abortion pills are a remarkably safe and convenient way to end a pregnancy, an anti-abortion Trump-appointed Texas judge, Matthew Kacsmaryk, suspended approval of mifepristone on April 7, 2023. A couple of weeks later, on April 21, 2023, the Supreme Court blocked Kacsmaryk’s ruling, allowing the abortion pill to stay on the market temporarily. More than half of the abortions in the U.S. are medication abortions, so how this case plays out will shape the reproductive landscape in significant ways. Feminist legal scholar Carrie Baker offers some hope. “No matter what happens with the law, abortion pills aren’t going away. Post-Roe, as states prohibit health care workers from offering abortion services, reproductive health advocates have developed robust alternative supply systems for abortion pills in the U.S. and an ecosystem of support, including free hotlines and community networks.” For more details about abortion pill networks, check out www.plancpills.org.
“An Object’s Journey,” Illustration by Rae Richards, student in the Gender Institute for Teaching and Advocacy, Metropolitan State University, Denver.
So much of the recent conversation about how people will access abortion and other reproductive care in the post-Roe world has focused on whether or not people can travel to access the procedure. But it isn’t just bodies that travel. So, too, do objects that enable reproductive care. Just as bodies carry memories and experiences, objects also hold within them unseen worlds. “An Object’s Journey” tells this story.