Morocco must decriminalise abortion: Amnesty International

Morocco‘s anti-abortion laws and access restrictions to reproductive health services force women and girls into dangerous situations, a new report by Amnesty International reveals.

“No state should dictate pregnancy decisions and deny women and girls essential sexual and reproductive health services, including abortion, to which they are entitled under international law,” said Amjad Yamin, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for MENA.

On Tuesday, 14 May, Amnesty, along with local women’s rights NGOs, presented a new report titled ‘My life is ruined: The need to decriminalise abortion in Morocco’ at a press conference in Rabat.

This report, which features interviews with 33 women who sought an abortion, documents how the criminalisation of abortion in Morocco, even in cases when pregnancy results from rape, has devastating consequences for women and girls.

Among these cases is Farah, who was raped by one of her colleagues. Unable to obtain a safe abortion, Farah resorted to using herbal mixtures, which caused her excruciating pain. She was later suspended by her employer out of fear that she might be prosecuted for having sexual relations outside of marriage.

The Moroccan Penal Code prohibits abortion unless it is conducted by a licensed doctor or surgeon and deemed necessary to safeguard the woman’s health or life.

Those undergoing or attempting abortion can face imprisonment ranging from six months to two years, along with fines, and additional prison sentences under provisions criminalising sexual relations outside of marriage.

In Morocco, “inciting for abortion” by any means, including through public speech or distributing related materials, carries penalties of up to two years in prison.

Medical professionals performing abortions outside the law risk losing their licenses. Providers, if subpoenaed, must also testify and disclose information about abortions they are aware of, thus compromising patient confidentiality.

Facing threats of imprisonment, many Moroccan women are compelled to seek dangerous methods to terminate pregnancies clandestinely.

Those unsuccessful are coerced into carrying pregnancies to term, facing additional risks of prosecution under laws criminalising sexual relations outside of marriage.

These restrictions, compounded by the absence of medical guidelines or protocols on the provision of lawful abortions, leave many women without a legal and safe path to abortion, says the rights group.

In January, Amnesty International, along with local NGOs, sent the report’s findings to the Moroccan authorities, seeking their response for inclusion in the report, but no replies had been received at the time of publication.

In 2015, Moroccan King Mohammed VI ordered legal reforms that would include exceptions for rape and incest. Still, the process has stalled for seven years as abortion continues to be “a religious taboo” in the North African country.

Meanwhile, between 600 and 800 clandestine abortions occur each day in the country, according to the Moroccan Organisation Against Clandestine Abortion (AMLAC).

On the other hand, children of unmarried women forced to carry their pregnancies to term are denied legal identity due to laws that only recognise paternal filiation within legal marriages.

The current Family Code, set to change this year, denies these children the right to bear the name of their biological father or receive financial support or inheritance, fostering poverty and discrimination against them.

“Women in Morocco must be enabled to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights through access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information and services, including modern contraceptives and safe abortion,” said Saida Kouzzi, Founding Partner at Mobilising for Rights Associates, Amnesty International’s campaign partner.

Amnesty’s new report was launched alongside a campaign to pressure the Moroccan state to end the criminalisation of abortion.

Source link

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *