The movie Vessel tells the true story of both a doctor and a movement. When Rebecca Gomperts, MD sailed Latin America as the resident doctor on the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior II, she met woman after woman who were faced with unwanted pregnancies. With no other way out, these women suffered the consequences of unsafe abortions, or gave birth to children they were unable to care for — all because abortion was illegal in their countries. Gomperts resolved to captain her own ship and sail the world providing abortions to women who couldn't otherwise access them, through a vital loophole: What happens on board a Dutch-registered ship in international waters need only adhere to Dutch law.
Gompert's organisation, Women on Waves, made its first trip — to Ireland — in 2001. "Her idea begins as flawed spectacle, faced with governmental, religious, and military blockade," writes Vessel's director and producer Diana Whitten. "But, with each roadblock comes a more refined mission, until Rebecca realises she can use new technologies to bypass law — and train women to give themselves abortions using WHO-researched protocols with pills. From there, we witness her create an underground network of emboldened, informed activists who trust women to handle abortion themselves."Vessel, distributed by Filmbuff and presented by Sovereignty Productions, is now available to rent or purchase online. Its hour and 27 minutes minutes trace how one improbable idea became a movement — a beautiful testament to the power of women fighting for other women.