Archive / Women on waves

Nr. 197 / 1999-ongoing / The Netherlands

Women on waves


Rebecca Gomperts


Women On Waves, founded in 1999 in the Netherlands by Rebecca Gomperts, provides safe legal abortions in international waters on-board a Dutch ship. The ship travels with a specialized abortion doctor, gynecologist, and nurse who offer contraceptives, information, trainings, and safe and legal abortions. Women on Waves partners with local organizations to offer sexual health services and workshops. By operating outside territorial waters, 12 miles off shore, local laws are subverted and legal abortions are made accessible.


The Netherlands


To prevent unsafe abortions and empower women to exercise their human rights to physical and mental autonomy. To provide access and information for women to be able to perform their own medical abortions. To provide tools to resist repressive cultures and laws.

Beneficial outcomes

Training, information, contraceptives, workshops, safe and legal early medical abortion services with pills, and targeted media campaigns; The Women on Waves public interest campaign helped catalyze the legalization of abortion in Portugal in 2007.

Maintained by

Private and philanthropic funding


Rebecca Gomperts, Atelier van Leishout, Gunilla Kleiverda, Myra ter Meulen, Margreet Parlevliet, Kinga Jelinska, Susan Davies, Marlies Schellekens, Carrie Watters, Greet Habraken, Women from countries where abortion is illegal