One of the fabulous independent films I got to see at Mountainfilm was The Vessel, about Dutch doctor Rebecca Gomperts and her dramatic efforts—a sailboat clinic—to help women in countries where reproductive freedoms are non-existent. Around the world one woman dies every ten minutes around the world dies every ten minutes due to lack of access to abortion.
In dramatic scenes, Dr. Gomperts and her boatful of helpers travel to Ireland, Morocco, Poland, Portugal and more to help women in need, passing along information about how a readily available prescription medication, misoprostol, can be used as a “morning after pill.”
The boat is used because 12 miles off shore laws of the flag country—not the nearest land mass—apply.
After the film Dr. Gomperts took questions via Skype.
The question and answer I’ll always remember:
“What country are you most concerned with in regard to reproductive rights?”
“The United States,” she didn’t hesitate. “I knew Dr. Tiller who was murdered there for his work. The level of violence around this issue in the United States is truly frightening. I can’t work there.”
Remembering that especially right now since today the US Supreme court invalidated, by unanimous decision, a Massachusetts law requiring a 35-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics to protect women entering clinics from anti-abortion protesters.
The decision is too fresh to have been thoroughly analyzed. The reasonings of the justices are clearly different. Clarence Thomas’s idea that it is “unconstitutional root and branch.” Chief Justice Roberts wrote a much more narrow majority opinion.
But still, all nine justices agreed on the central idea.
The most recommended comment on the early New York Times story sums it up:
“Cellphones get privacy. Women who need health services not so much.”