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Urgent Call to Decriminalize Abortion and Protect Women’s Rights in Morocco

The ruling on abortions in Morocco has been a long-standing multifaceted issue. Initially, abortion was entirely criminalized unless the mother’s life was in danger by article 453 of the Moroccan penal code which left Moroccan women to resort to unsafe, illegal abortion practices. Abortions under other circumstances attract penalties of up to two years for those who receive them, and 10 to 30 years for the health workers involved.

The criminalization of abortion in Morocco has dire implications for women and girls, compelling them to seek unsafe and clandestine methods to terminate pregnancies, even in cases resulting from rape. The punitive laws have a “chilling effect,” dissuading women and girls from seeking post-abortion care in instances of complications or failed attempts, further endangering their health and well-being.

In a country where extramarital sexual relations are illegal, women and girls face the threat of arrest and prosecution if they pursue illegal abortions. Consequently, they are often coerced into carrying pregnancies to term, exposing themselves to gender-based violence, social exclusion, and hardship while enduring the physical and emotional repercussions of unsuccessful abortion attempts.

Morocco’s failure to ensure accessible and safe abortion and post-abortion care constitutes a violation of women’s and girls’ fundamental rights to life, health, dignity, bodily autonomy, equality, non-discrimination, and freedom from torture and other forms of ill-treatment.

Right Defenders urgently calls upon Moroccan authorities to fully decriminalize abortion, provide accessible, safe, and high-quality abortion services for all individuals in need, and uphold women and girls’ rights to make autonomous, informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health and lives.

Furthermore, Right Defenders advocates for an end to the violation of women’s rights in Morocco, emphasizing the critical need for gender equality and the protection of women’s rights within the country’s legal and societal framework.


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