Women’s Reproductive Rights and Abortion in Morocco: Regulatory Reforms Should Not Miss the Bigger Picture

March 31, 2023
Othman Regragui

In Morocco, abortion is criminalized except to safeguard a woman’s life and health. But the current legal framework, inherited from the French Protectorate (1912-56), no longer properly reflects the social reality of contemporary Morocco, where more than 200,000 clandestine abortions are carried out every year. In 2015, a consultative commission appointed by King Mohammed VI proposed widening the legal parameters for pregnancy termination to include rape, incest, and fetal impairment. Yet the commission rejected progressive Islamic jurisprudence that would have authorized abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy, and it failed to address the existing constraints for Moroccan women to access the procedure. Due to political inertia, Penal Code amendments that would have loosened the country’s strict abortion laws have stalled in the parliament for nearly seven years and successive governments failed to integrate the issue into a fully-fledged reproductive framework including other entangled and pressing issues such as contraception and sexual education. The recent death of a 14-year-old girl following a botched “back alley” abortion at the house of her abuser is the latest reminder of the need to better protect women’s reproductive rights in the North African country. This tragedy should also push the authorities to address the socio-legal drivers behind unwanted pregnancies — such as unduly light punishments for sexual crimes, systemic discrimination against single mothers, and the exploitation of underage girls working as house servants — and recognize these factors as critical impediments to women’s reproductive rights.

Source: https://www.mei.edu/publications/womens-reproductive-rights-and-abortion-morocco-regulatory-reforms-should-not-miss

Morocco – PJD Rebukes Justice Minister Over Decriminalization of Abortion, Sex Outside Marriage

The Islamist party argues that Justice Minister Abdellatif Ouhabi’s announcement of reform to Morocco’s Penal Code is an attack on Moroccan values.

Safaa Kasraoui
Feb. 21, 2023

Rabat - Morocco’s opposition Justice and Development Party (PJD) has accused Justice Minister Abdellatif Ouahbi of trying to provoke sedition with his announcement that the country’s Penal Code is in need of reforms.

PJD issued its press release on Monday, saying that it strongly condemns Ouhabi’s attempts to “stir sedition” by adopting “trends” that are against “Islamic and national constants.”

Continued: https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2023/02/354139/pjd-rebukes-justice-minister-over-decriminalization-of-abortion-sex-outside-marriage

Abortion legislation in Morocco an ‘absolute emergency’, Dr pleads

By Rédaction Africanews with AFP
Nov 14, 2022

The debate over abortion has flared in Morocco after a 14-year-old identified as Meriem died following a clandestine pregnancy termination in a rural village.

The founder of the Moroccan Association Against Clandestine Abortion adds his voice to calls for the legalization of the procedure. It (abortion legislation) is an absolute emergency because we are witnessing the consequences of not being able to have legal abortions on a daily basis", Dr Chafik Chraibi said.

Continued: https://www.africanews.com/2022/11/13/abortion-legislation-in-morocco-an-absolute-emergency-dr-chraibi-pleads/

Abortion under spotlight in conservative Morocco

Issued on: 13/11/2022

Rabat (AFP) – The debate over abortion rights has flared in Morocco after a teenager's death following an unsafe termination, but social taboos continue to stall reforms.

"If I spoke out for abortion rights in front of my brothers, I'd be risking my life," said student Leila, 21, adding that she comes from a relatively "modern" family.

In September, a 14-year-old identified as Meriem died following an unsafe procedure in a rural village in the country's centre.

Continued: https://www.rfi.fr/en/international-news/20221113-abortion-under-spotlight-in-conservative-morocco

Safe Abortion Day: Moroccan Activists Fight For Change

September 28, marks safe abortion day which is a topic of interest in Morocco following the recent death of a teenager who underwent an illegal abortion.

Olivia Hooper
Sep. 28, 2022

Rabat- On the occasion of International Safe Abortion Day on September 28, many in Morocco push for reform of its criminal code that criminalizes abortion. A protest to encourage change in the law is to be held today outside the parliament building in Rabat, at 5:00 pm.

The United Nations Women took to Twitter to spread awareness under the hashtag #SafeAbortionDay stating, “Over 1.2 billion women & girls live in countries with some restrictions on access to safe abortion. When safe & legal access to abortion is restricted, women are forced to resort to less safe methods, often with damaging results.”

Continued: https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2022/09/351566/safe-abortion-day-moroccan-activists-fight-for-change

Moroccan Association Declares Day of Mourning for Minor Dead After Abortion

The tragic incident has triggered outrage among Moroccan activists and women’s rights groups.

Sara Zouiten
Sep. 20, 2022

Rabat - Moroccan Outlaws 490, a social change organization, has declared Tuesday, September 20 as a day of mourning in the memory of Meriem, a 14-year-old girl who recently lost her life after undergoing a clandestine and unsafe abortion.

The group said in a statement: “Time to grieve … Meriem, 14 years old, raped, died on September 6th following an unsafe abortion, due to the unjust system of law we all know and live under.”

Continued: https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2022/09/351440/moroccan-association-declares-day-of-mourning-for-minor-dead-after-abortion

Moroccan Association Calls for Abortion Law Reform After Death of 14-year-old Girl

The incident reopened the public debate about abortion, with several Moroccan activists and women’s rights associations calling for the decriminalization of abortion in the country.

Sara Zouiten
Sep. 15, 2022

Rabat - Outrage grew in Morocco after a 14-year-old girl lost her life to unsafe abortion, with several associations and activists, including the Spring of Dignity Alliance, calling for reform in the country’s abortion law, as well as access to safe and legal abortion.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Spring of Dignity Alliance said that the teenager, who lived in the town of Midelt, 200 kilometers south of Fez, underwent a “secret abortion.” The abortion was carried out by a midwife who works at the regional hospital in Midelt and a technician from Azrou hospital, who pretended to be a nurse, the statement added.

Continued: https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2022/09/351355/moroccan-association-calls-for-abortion-law-reform-after-death-of-14-year-old-girl

MOROCCO – National Council of Human Rights (CNDH) calls for abortion law reform following Hajar Raissouni case

MOROCCO – National Council of Human Rights (CNDH) calls for abortion law reform following Hajar Raissouni case

by International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion
Nov 12, 2019

In a memorandum to the Government and Parliament of Morocco, the National Council of Human Rights (CNDH) is clearly in favour of changing certain provisions of the Moroccan Penal Code, in general making abortion legal on wider grounds but also changing Articles 449 to 452, which call for imprisonment for illegal abortion. The memorandum insists that the law take into account the “psychological and social security” of the woman, as well as the safety of her health. For the CNDH, these reasons justify the right to abortion in the first three months of pregnancy. They add: “A woman suffering from mental disorders has the right to have an abortion without the authorisation of the husband though, of course, under the control of the family judge”.

They also oppose the criminalisation of non-marital sex and call for the decriminalisation of consensual sexual relations between adults and reject the criminalisation of homosexuality. In short, the Council chaired by Fatima Bouayach recommends the deletion of Articles 489 to 493.

Morocco: Journalist’s pardon for ‘abortion’ reflects societal split

Morocco: Journalist's pardon for 'abortion' reflects societal split
Hajar Raissouni was jailed for an abortion she has always denied. Her pardon this week was a small victory for women's rights activists across the region who, despite recent gains, still face serious resistance.

Date 19.10.2019
Author Tom Allinson, Imane Mellouk

After Morocco's king pardoned her for the crimes of having an "illegal abortion" and premarital sex , journalist Hajar Raissouni on Wednesday made a victory sign with her fingers. The moment has come to symbolize a win for her and civil rights activists, who have campaigned for her release.

King Mohammed VI overturned her one-year sentence and conviction, which was handed down on September 30 in order to "preserve the future of the two fiancés who planned to found a family in line with our religious and legal precepts, despite the error they made," the justice ministry said.

continued: https://www.dw.com/en/morocco-journalists-pardon-for-abortion-reflects-societal-split/a-50887965

Moroccan Journalist Jailed For Abortion Freed After Royal Pardon

Moroccan Journalist Jailed For Abortion Freed After Royal Pardon

By Sophie Pons

Moroccan journalist Hajar Raissouni who was sentenced to one year in jail for an "illegal abortion" and sexual relations outside marriage walked free on Wednesday, shortly after being granted a royal pardon.

In a case that had provoked a storm of protests from rights groups, the justice ministry said the 28-year-old woman was released on a pardon issued by King Mohammed VI.

Continued: https://www.ibtimes.com/moroccan-journalist-jailed-abortion-freed-after-royal-pardon-2847379