Polish Diary


Occasionally Women on Waves is accused of being a media stunt, a PR machine only set up for the hungry eyes of the press. Supposedly, they only stir up a lot of trouble in peaceful Catholic countries where women do not have the right to decide what can be removed from their uterus. Apparently, there are people that think that Women on Waves is mainly a form of Chairitertainment which does not offer any real practical help.

But after Women on Waves visited Poland, where hundreds of woman given information, information not only about abortion, but about contraceptives, birth control, safe sex and family planning, an enactment was introduced to parlement to legalize abortion. Perhaps Women on Waves could not save thousands of Polish women from an unsafe illegal abortion during the two weeks the Langenort was in Poland, but perhaps they can save Polish women from unsafe and illegal abortions in the future.

What follows in the contents of this Polish diary, are the day to day thoughts which ran through the heads of the volunteers faced with a situation that was unacceptable to them. It contains quotes from the two week front page press coverage, letters from politicians supporting the cause, hate mail, conversations recorded on the hotline, and photographs of everyone involved, the feminists, the volunteers, the police, the pregnant women and the skinheads.

All this and more has also been published in the book Women on Waves - Poland, which is available from our online shop.

  • Goodbye

    The Langenort leaves to return the Netherlands. Weather is rough and emotions are split: can Women on Waves be happy with what they achieved, or should they be angry about what they did not? Either way, they hope they have opened some eyes. Tümünü oku »

  • The last trip

    The Langenort sails to international waters very early in the morning to avoid anti-choice protest. They arrive back early in the afternoon, when there are hardly any protestors at the quay. Once the ship is moored, a special team of customs officials board the ship. Tümünü oku »

  • Artists or abortion doctors?

    Women on Waves are invited to participate in an art event at Modelarnia, a contemporary art space in Gdansk. Aneta Szyłak, an internationally known Polish curator has invited several Polish artists whose work has been censured by conservative religious leaders to present and discuss their work. Tümünü oku »

  • Kremlin, Acropolis, Eiffel Tower, Langenort!

    The Langenort does not sail out again due to weather conditions, and instead stay docked, where it becomes the backdrop of many snapshots. The hotlines volunteers have to call women to inform them that they cannot sail today, they will have to wait, which sometimes results in not being able to… Tümünü oku »

  • Open Ship

    An open house day is held on the ship to be able to provide more information. Over 200 people show up, and despite mice being let loose on deck they brave a two hour wait to see the ship. Leaflets and brochures are given out with more information about birth control and abortion. Tümünü oku »

  • Support us

    In Wroc?aw a demonstration takes place to support the actions of Women on Waves. Two days ago another demonstration was held in Warsaw, and Emancypunx, Os´ka and the March 8th Women's Alliance, all Polish Women's organizations, all collected signatures of people who supported Women on Waves cause. Tümünü oku »

  • Active media

    Washington Times 29-06-2003, Joe Bob's week in review: "The Langenort, a Dutch tugboat with a mobile abortion clinic aboard, docked at W?adys?awowo, Poland, causing panic and outrage among the Catholic hierarchy as women lined up to be taken to international waters, examined by doctors, and… Tümünü oku »

  • Sailing again

    The Langenort sails out into international waters for the second time. There are 7 Polish women on board. The weather is great. At sea Rebecca and Juul give a workshop on sexual health. After the captain informs us that the ship is in international waters, the seal on the medicine closet is broken. Tümünü oku »

  • Dealing

    The local prosecutor has started an investigation concerning the possible distribution of illegal drugs, being abortion pills, in Polish territory. The prosecutors say they suspect that the missing pills from the Langenort are being sold in Poland. Tümünü oku »

  • To international waters

    The Langenort can finally sail to international waters to provide Polish women with abortion pills. The identity of the 11 Polish women who will be sailing on the ship is protected by volunteers walking around the ship in hoods and sunglasses, distracting the anti-choice protesters, who vowed to… Tümünü oku »

  • Teaching those who want to learn

    The ship moved to a publicly more accessible space so that press and visitors would have the chance to see it. Women on Waves wanted be closer to the public so they could hold sexual education workshops and demonstrations, and so they could explain that the function of their foundation is not just… Tümünü oku »

  • A letter of support, a drop of truth.

    On the fourth day of the campaign, it almost seemed like this hectic isolated lifestyle is becoming normal. The crew being transported around in minivans with darkened windows, women sobbing on the hotline, eggs and paint being thrown at you while at the same time supporters are screaming Welcome! Tümünü oku »

  • Custom officials

    On the 22nd of June the pharmaceutical experts identify 180 Cytotec pills and 45 Mifegyne tablets to be part of the cargo of the Langenort. It turns out that the idea to seal some of the medicines in the Netherlands was essential. The Polish customs officials will not be able to confiscate these… Tümünü oku »

  • Arriving in Władysławowo

    After 48 hours of negotiation with the harbor officials, the wind lifts up and the Langenort heads to Wladyslawowo to dock in the the Wladyslawowo harbor. Waiting on the dock are Polish women's organizations and the other Women on Waves members, but also a group of around 200 anti abortionist… Tümünü oku »

  • Calling

    DZIENNIK BALTYCKI: "There will be no pregnant women coming even as close as 10 km to the port of Wladyslawowo" according to local gynaecologists. "Abortion can be done here in town; anonymously, quickly, for money. Special addresses are passed on to friends and colleagues of… Tümünü oku »

  • Press, police, politicians. and phones.

    In the morning of the 21st of June, a press conference is held in the Wladyslawowo city hall. Two anti abortionist members of Parliament are denied access to the press conference by the local police. They are not seeking more information from Women on Waves, but are only trying to disrupt the Women… Tümünü oku »

  • Bright Lights, Wrong City

    When the Langenort finally arrives in Poland on the 20th of June, it finds no where to land. While another ship sails out of the harbor, the harbormaster in W?adys?awowo informs Women on Waves that due to weather conditions the Langenort cannot enter W?adys?awowo and must sail to Gdan´sk instead. Tümünü oku »

  • Attention

    On the 19th of June at two pm Women on Waves sends their international press release from Władysławowo with their contact number. In this press release they officially state that their ship will be arriving in Poland. The response is meager, and for a while, it seems as of their cause has not… Tümünü oku »

  • Keep the closet closed

    On the 16th of June, the Langenort finally sails out, after first having the medicine on board sealed in a closet (to the disbelief of the dutch customs officers) and being stranded in mud for two hours. Tümünü oku »

  • Clogged toilets and lawyers who never stop talking.

    Meanwhile, the Langenort is having some difficulties. The Langenort's engine was thought to be damaged, and there are problems with the insurance, there are no life rafts, and the instruments onboard are not working. Tümünü oku »

  • Fame! Glory! Compulsory EU leader tours!

    In June 2003, Women on Waves got a spot in the first Biennial of Thessalonica in an exhibition titled "Europe Exists". Tümünü oku »

  • Wladywhatta?

    By April 2003, the crew, press team, medical team and translators are all in place. The crew has decided to sail to Wladyslawowo instead of Gdansk or Gdynia, because international waters begin only 12 miles from Wladyslawowo as opposed to 22 miles from Gdansk or Gdynia. Tümünü oku »

  • Leaking like a sieve.

    Women on Waves is careful not to announce their trip to Poland, as not to allow anti abortionist groups to prepare for their arrival. The fifty volunteers in the Netherlands receive both security and media training from the Feminist Majority Foundation and Women on Waves to help them deal with… Tümünü oku »

  • Power to the... Church?

    In January 2003 the Polish Government announces that a referendum will be held on June 8 to determine public opinion on joining the European Union. The discussion about the referendum to enter the European Union also affects the debate about abortion. Tümünü oku »

  • Condensed SexEd

    In December 2002, Women on Waves gives one day workshops for medical professionals in Gdansk and Warsaw. Tümünü oku »

  • License to question authority

    Even though Women on Waves' application for a license as a first trimester abortion clinic was denied twice, on this trip to Poland Women on Waves will be able to provide abortion services with abortion pills within the first forty five days of pregnancy. Under dutch law this providing women… Tümünü oku »