Vessel begins with a young doctor who lived by the sea, and an unlikely idea.  Rebecca Gomperts, horrified by the realities created by anti-abortion law around the world, felt compelled to challenge this.  Her method: to provide abortions on a ship in offshore waters.

Her project, Women on Waves, begins as flawed spectacle, a media frenzy, faced with governmental, religious, and military blockades.  But with each setback comes a more refined mission, until Rebecca has the revelation that she can use new technologies to bypass law – and train women to give themselves safe abortions using WHO-sanctioned protocols with pills.

We witness the creation of an underground network of emboldened, informed activists, working at the cutting edge of global reproductive rights, who trust women to handle abortion themselves. Vessel is Rebecca’s story: one of a woman who heard and answered a calling, and transformed a wildly improbable idea into a global movement.


A Sovereignty Productions presentation, in association with Fork Films, Impact Partners, and Chicken and Egg Pictures.

Vessel was made possible with generous support from HIVOS, Mary Wohlford Foundation, Hope Foundation, NYSCA, Fledgling Fund, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, Puffin Foundation, Mama Cash, Harnisch Foundation, Ipas, Grant Me the Wisdom Foundation, Diane and Adam Max, Lambrecht Family Foundation, Rosenthal Family Foundation, Dobkin Family Foundation, Compton Foundation, over 150 individual donors, an army of fabulous volunteers, and the fiscal sponsorship of Women Make Movies.

...Thank you!




Women on Waves was founded in 2000 with the aim to prevent unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions by providing sexual health services, including early medical abortions (abortion with pills), on board a Dutch ship, outside the territorial waters of countries where abortion is illegal.

In the last 10 years Women on Waves has generated enormous public interest, and much controversy, with ship campaigns in Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and Morocco.  The ship campaigns are conducted by invitation and in collaboration with local partner organizations, and are designed to add momentum to activist efforts already on the ground working to liberalize law.

Although legalization of abortion is important, medical abortion now gives women the possibility to take their lives into their own hands, regardless of the legality of abortion or the willingness of doctors. Ensuring that WHO-researched information about medical abortion is easily available to women can save women’s lives. Therefore, Women on Waves now focuses on helping women access information about medical abortion by distributing information through the internet, grassroots efforts on the ground, and by supporting the creation of safe abortion telephone hotlines in collaboration with partner organizations across South America, Africa, Asia, and Europe.

For more information, or if you need help, please visit



Vessel has launched an extensive audience engagement and grassroots distribution campaign, building on a global network of aligned partners in the fields of women’s rights, reproductive justice, international human rights, and women’s health advocates.

Outreach to and engagement of such audiences will facilitate a tour of community, campus and grassroots screenings of the film. The aim of such screenings will be to contextualize medical abortion as part of a global solution for maternal health. Strategic engagement materials and a multi-platform web presence will reinforce such screenings and provide avenues for audience engagement beyond the feature-length film itself.

Nonprofits, student groups, activists and educators can sponsor local screenings to broaden the film's reach. Here's how you can host a local screening!

If you wish to help support this work, you may make a secure tax-deductible donation via our fiscal sponsor, Women Make Movies.




Upcoming screenings

Date Venue
Oct 3 4:45 PM Milwaukee Film Festival Landmark Downer Theatre Buy Tickets
Oct 9 4:30 PM Milwaukee Film Festival Landmark Downer Theatre Buy Tickets
Oct 9 8:30 PM BendFilm Regal 1 Buy Tickets
Oct 10 5:30 PM BendFilm Volcanic Buy Tickets
Oct 10 7:00 PM Flagstaff Mountain Film Festival The Orpheum Theatre Buy Tickets
Bergen International Film Festival Kino's Magnus Barfot Buy Tickets
New Orleans Film Festival New Orleans Film Festival Buy Tickets


Nonprofits, student groups, activists and educators can sponsor local screenings to broaden the film's reach. To host a local screening, you contribute a modest screening fee and, in return, we give you:

  • The Vessel DVD
  • The Public Performance Rights for Vessel
  • Action and Discussion Materials
  • Digital Promotional Tools

...And hands-on support from our community screenings team!

Fill in our brief request form to indicate your interest, or email We look forward to responding within 1-2 business days with instructions on how to get started!

Contact Us

World Sales:

Philippa Kowarsky | Cinephil | +972 3 566 4129  |

Adam Segal | the 2050 Group | 202.422.4673  |

Community Screenings and Filmmaker Appearances:
Allie Paddock | Film Sprout | 347.682.2483  |

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Photos by Diana Whitten and Cedric Zoenen
Poster art by Empty the Sunrise