Press Release: Ottawa Premiere of Award Winning Documentary: Vessel

Posted on January, 20 2015 by Action Canada

20 January 2014
For immediate release

Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, a progressive, pro-choice charitable organization committed to advancing and upholding sexual and reproductive health and rights in Canada and globally, is hosting the Ottawa premiere of the award winning documentary, Vessel.

A fearless sea captain sails a ship through loopholes in international law, providing abortions on the high seas, and leaving in her wake a network of emboldened activists who trust women to handle abortion on their own terms.

Dr. Rebecca Gomperts sails a ship around the world, providing abortions at sea for women with no legal alternative. Her idea begins as flawed spectacle, faced with governmental, religious, and military blockade.

But with each roadblock comes a more refined mission, until Rebecca realizes she can use new technologies to bypass law – and train women to give themselves abortions using World Health Organization (WHO) researched protocols with pills.

From there we witness her create an underground network of empowered, informed activists who trust women to make decisions about their bodies themselves.

“This film not only reaffirms how powerful individual actions can be in the global struggle to guarantee abortion rights, but on a more practical level it shows how medical abortion can significantly improve access to safe abortion services,” said Sandeep Prasad, executive director of Action Canada.

Although access to safe abortion is recognized within international human rights entitlements, many people worldwide continue to face barriers when it comes to making decisions about their own bodies. From lack of availability to legal restrictions and criminal sanctions, access to safe and legal abortion services remains a global challenge.

Even in countries where abortion is legal, access is often limited. In Canada, only 16% of hospitals offer abortion services, many of which are located in urban areas and within 150 km of the US border.

The drug mifepristone (RU-486), which could increase access to medical abortion, has been under review by Health Canada since 2012.

The combination regimen of mifepristone and misoprostol is listed as an essential drug by the World Health Organization (WHO) and available in at least 57 countries. Mifepristone followed by misoprostol is also recommended by the WHO as the most effective method for safe medical abortion.

In Canada, a person can have a medical abortion up to 7 weeks from the last menstrual period using a combination of methotrexate and misoprostol. However, it is estimated that less than 4% of all abortions in Canada are medical abortions. In countries where mifepristone is available, medical abortion is provided up to 9 weeks gestation and upward of 50% of people opting to terminate their pregnancy choose this option.

Access to safe and legal abortion services is part of every person’s right to health and the human right of all people in Canada and globally to make autonomous decisions about their bodies.

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CONTACT: Ani Colekessian [email protected] +1 613 241 4474 x7


  • Journalists are welcome to attend the screening at 5:30pm on Wednesday 21 January, 251 Bank Street, 2nd floor. Limited seating is available.
  • A press kit is available for download at

ACTION CANADA FOR SEXUAL HEALTH & RIGHTS is a progressive, pro-choice charitable organization committed to advancing and upholding sexual and reproductive health and rights in Canada and globally. For more information visit



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