Port Townsend couple volunteering on abortion ship reportedly heading home

PORT TOWNSEND — A Port Townsend couple is reportedly heading home after volunteering on an “abortion ship” operated by a nonprofit landed them in hot water with the Guatemalan government.

Daniel Evans, 44, is a former captain for the schooner Adventuress and one of the race organizers for the Northwest Maritime Center’s annual Race to Alaska.

He and his wife, Merilee Nyland Evans, 32, were recruited to volunteer on a boat operated by the Dutch nonprofit Women on Waves, according to Jake Beattie, Northwest Maritime Center director.

The nonprofit was featured in the documentary “Vessel,” which was shown at the Port Townsend Film Festival in 2016.

The group made international headlines when the ship was detained by the Guatemalan Army at a harbor in Guatemala on Feb. 22, according to reports from the BBC.

According to the Women on Waves website at www.womenon waves.org, the nonprofit offers reproductive health services to women in countries with restrictive abortion laws.

Those services include taking women who are in the early stages of their pregnancy into international waters where trained medical professionals can provide abortion services.

The group also offers health exams and birth control options.

Abortions are illegal in Guatemala and will be performed only if the mother’s life is in danger.

According to the Women on Waves blog, the ship and its crew were detained in San Juan, Guatemala. Those aboard were allowed to disembark the ship only to use the port restroom facilities from Feb. 22-26 when the boat was given a military escort out of the harbor to Mexico.

Beattie was able to confirm the couple was in Mexico. He said in an email Tuesday that he didn’t know much else about the situation but was keeping track of it as best he could.

The Evanses are expected to be back in Port Townsend within the week.

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Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at cmcfarland@peninsuladailynews.com.

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