In 2019 Women on Waves and Women on Web continued working towards a world with more social justice for women and people with an unwanted pregnancy who need a safe abortion by facilitating access to abortions with pills; to make obstacles to safe abortion care visible and catalyze policy and legal changes. It was a year of internal growth, scientific publications and the start of a new really exciting project.
We are so proud of our involvement in the legalisation of abortion this year in Ireland, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and South Korea and the difference we have been able to make in the lives of almost 20.000 women and pregnant people living in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man and South Korea when they needed a safe abortion in the past 14 year.
Some highlights of 2019:
- We made the Women on Web service available in 7 additional languages, Sinhala, Tamil, German, Malay, Russian, Italian and Dutch. Women on Web is now available in 22 languages.
- The Women on Web helpdesk answered more than 165.000 emails from women around the world.
- Women on Waves was featured in the fall exhibition at Harvard Graduate School of Design curated by Malkit Shoshan. “Love in a Mist (and the Politics of Fertility),”
- Women on Waves was the chosen charity by the band the National for their European tour, initiated by Plus1, a Canadian organisation work with bands to raise money for non-profits the band chooses.
- The Abortion ship campaign in Mexico in 2017 is featured in the new book "The Outlaw Ocean" by Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist Ian Urbina.
- In February 2019, the Dutch Court of Appeal of The Hague ruled that it is not clear if early treatments till 16 days after the missed menstruation (overtime treatment) fall under the criminal code. The court case was initiated by Women on Waves and Bureau Clara Wichmann in 2016. Based on the principle of legality, which means that something is not punishable if there is no prior penalty provision, family doctors can provide the "overtime" treatment with medicines. After this court decision a group of family doctors started providing medicines to women who missed their period for less than 16 days.
- We were censored again. OONI confirmed the blocking of womenonwaves.org in Brazil, Iran and Turkey and womeononweb.org in South Korea, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia.
- We launched the sibling websites aborsionline.org, pengguguran.org, abortion-korea.org, comoabortar.org, ijhad.org, aborcja-polska.org and haplarlakurtaj.org.
- On the request of the Polish court, Women on Web was interrogated by the Dutch Court in April 2019. It concerned the case of a woman in Poland who had used the abortion pills. This was the second interrogation on the request of the Polish government. Officially the request was to appear as a witness concerning the illegal importation of medicines in Poland.
- In 2019 we presented our work at more than 27 meetings and conferences.
- Women on Waves and Women on Web were mentioned in many news outlets in 2019. For example the New York Times, Foreign Policy, NRC, The Conversation, The Intercept, The Times, Reuters, The Independent, Radio New Zealand, Vanity Fair Italy, El Pais and the book "My Body My Choice"
- Five scientific research articles about Women on Web or with our participation were published in 2019.
- A study published in Women's Health Issues, reviews data from email inquiries and online consultations from 323 U.S. service women seeking medication abortion from Women on Web between January 2010 and December 2017. Many of the women describe fear of military reprimand, and potential career impacts. One service woman wrote: “I was violated and I'm in the Army but because I did not tell at the time my story will not look right and I could face a lot of trouble. I am deployed to Afghanistan and I need an abortion but we are not able to get them here. I am so desperate I thought of hitting my stomach over and over till I miscarried.”
- New research published in the American Journal of Public Health showed that during a 10-month period, 6,022 people from the USA contacted Women on Web for support. 76% requests came from states with restrictive abortion regulations.
- On march 14, 2019, Women on Web was a coauthor in the publication Telemedicine for medical abortion: a systematic review which found that medical abortion through telemedicine seems to be highly acceptable to women and providers, success rate and safety outcomes are similar to those reported in literature for in‐person abortion care.
- A new scientific study " Safety and acceptability of medical abortion above 9 weeks pregnancy" analyzing the outcomes of 615 women from Poland who used Women on Web. It found that women with pregnancies of more than 9 weeks who go to the hospital on the same or next day of doing the medical abortion, even though the self-reported symptoms are the same as those of women of less than 9 weeks pregnancy, have a higher risk of a surgical intervention.
- Our scientific study published in Medisch Contact found that during a 9 months period 172 women living in the Netherlands completed the online consultation from Women on Web. Obstacle to abortion access were: women could not afford to pay for an abortion (22%); having to keep the abortion a secret for partner or family (33%), stigma 11%), protests at abortion clinics (11%), not being able to babysit arranging for children (10%), distance to clinic (9%) and domestic violence (5%). It proved that accessibility to abortion services in The Netherlands is insufficient. One women wrote : "It is impossible for me to go to a clinic because of possible retaliation when my friend finds out. I can't just 'disappear' for an hour or two. Would you please help me? I'm so desperate and scared.
We would like to use this opportunity also to update you about Aid Access, a personal initiative of Dr Gomperts and financially or legally not related with Women on Waves and Women on Web. Aid Access is a new global telemedical abortion service for women who cannot otherwise access safe abortions because of costs, domestic violence, distance, or other reasons. On March 8, Rebecca received a letter from the FDA ordering her to stop the service. This letter was applauded by 117 Republican members of Congress of the USA. September 9th, Dr Richard Hearn, who represents AidAccess pro-bono, filed a complaint in District Court of Idaho against the FDA. The complaint asks the court to declare that any prosecution of Dr. Gomperts or her patients would be a violation of women's constitutional right and to enter an injunction prohibiting the FDA from taking any action that would cause criminal charges to be brought against Dr. Gomperts and/or Aid Access and/or Dr. Gomperts’ patients. On November 15th, the FDA responded with a motion to dismiss. On December 19th, Dr Richard Hearn replied to the FDA's motion to dismiss. The court will probably decide in the spring of 2020.
Our Plans for 2020
On November 11 th, 2020 Women on Web will be 15 years old.
The most exciting new project is the research and development of Mifepristone 50 mg as a weekly contraceptive in collaboration with Karolinska Instituted and Tbilisi State University with financial support of Options grant from the Canadian government. We still need more funding to do the research and with your support we can really do it! (here you can make a donation for Women on Waves or Women on Web)
This new non-hormonal, on demand contraceptive will be a revolution for women!
Thank you so much on behalf of everybody working with Women on Waves and Women on Web and women and people with unwanted pregnancy from around the world!
This option is a great help for women similar in my condition where getting pregnant outside of marriage is considered a crime. Because of this treatment, I cant go to clinic and check on the status of my pregnancy because I’m afraid I will be reported. I hope one day our country will change this inhuman law.
Thank you for being there when i had no one to talk too. You have been of great help to me, i may not be able to thank you in person but from the bottom of my heart, i thank you all.
This experience made me feel very grateful, as I thought of all the women around the world who can't have access to safe abortion, or those of them who don't speak foreign languages or simply can't connect to the Internet. I wish you could have a branch in every country to help women in need. Thank you again for helping me to get out of the most difficult situation of my life.
Im very grateful to know women on web and help me through my difficulties. My pray to you is keep help women with the same as my situation and god bless.
I m very good. I ve totally recovered. I cannot Express in words all my gratitude for you. I want to thank you very very much. You helped me and the process was smooth without the need to see a doctor and make from this a real trauma. At this time I can say I ve totally forgot what happened and is because of your help that I don t hold bad memories. God bless you and thank you 1000 times!