Sprite. Think about it. Not the soft drink. Think about the original word, meaning an elf, fairy, pixie, or imp.
When I watched the documentary Vessel about the work of Dr. Rebecca Gomperts, the remarkably brave, Dutch physician who launched Women on Waves (WoW), I couldn’t stop the word “sprite” and its synonyms from popping into my head.
She is, at once, a force of nature and yet as light and energetic as…well…a sprite.
Gomperts and the others of WoW take non-surgical abortion services and reproductive counseling to women in countries with restrictive laws via a commissioned ship equipped with a mobile clinic. The ship stays in international waters, where it operates under Dutch laws, and women who have made appointments are taken on board the ship for services.
“It’s not only the controversy of abortion that creates reactions and attention and discussion. It’s about this other symbolic gesture,” says Gomperts in the film. “The ship is a symbol of freedom. It’s always been, but it’s been a male domain. When women take charge, it somehow triggers the fantasy and hopes of people.”
The documentary, which premiered at the SXSW last March, took seven years to produce and is the first feature for director Diana Whitten.
You can see it free of charge at a/perture cinema on Tuesday, April 28 at 6:30 p.m. in a community screening sponsored by the AAUW Winston-Salem Branch, Carolina Abortion Fund, NOW of the Triad, and Planned Parenthood South Atlantic. A discussion will follow the film.
Gomperts and other WoW leaders have held training sessions on using prescription drugs to induce abortion in 23 countries. In 2012 alone, the organization fielded 100,000 emails from women in 135 countries regarding medical abortion.
“It’s about taking responsibility and about taking power of your own life,” says Gomperts. “I don’t think women are so scared to do that, actually. It might be that the world is scared of women that are doing that.”