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Amnesty calls on Morocco to decriminalize abortion, consensual sexual relations

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Amnesty issued in a press conference today a strong call for Morocco to decriminalize abortion and treat it as a healthcare issue.

Presenting a report titled “My Life Has Been Destroyed,” Amnesty Morocco outlined a series of legal and policy change recommendations that push for a complete decriminalization of abortion.

This means removing abortion in Morocco from the scope of criminal law and placing it under the authority of the Ministry of Health and Social Protection.

Morocco abortion
Mounir Mhimdate

Unless a pregnancy endangers a woman’s health, women undergoing abortion in Morocco face up to two years in jail, while those assisting them risk five years’ imprisonment.

Local organizations say that despite the heavy penalties, between 600 and 800 women have an abortion every day in the country of 38 million people, many in dangerous, unsanitary conditions.

Amnesty International urged the Moroccan government to repeal laws that criminalize sex outside of marriage. They argue that these laws leave women vulnerable to sexual violence and hinder access to reproductive healthcare.

A draft bill to modify the legislation has been presented twice to parliament before being withdrawn without any official explanation.

The report called for removing of criminal records for women previously convicted of abortion or sex outside marriage and recommended reforms to the Family Code and civil status law to eliminate discrimination against single mothers and children born out of wedlock.

The human rights organization highlights the dangers associated with criminalizing abortion in Morocco, which forces women to seek unsafe and clandestine procedures that not only puts their health at risk but also violate their rights to life and bodily autonomy.

Amnesty International emphasized that international human rights standards support access to safe abortion services.

They urge the Moroccan Ministry of Health to establish a regulatory framework that aligns with World Health Organization guidelines on abortion care.

This framework should ensure equitable access to information, services, and healthcare facilities for all women and girls seeking reproductive healthcare, including abortion.

The report also calls for removing unnecessary restrictions on abortion access, which includes eliminating mandatory waiting periods, spousal consent requirements, or restrictions based on specific reasons for seeking an abortion.

“Human rights are inherent, universal and indivisible, so this criminalization contributes to inequality, the emergence of a range of economic and social crises and phenomena, and the deep psychological suffering of women,” Soufiane Atrassi, president of Amnesty’s Morocco branch, said.

 “Amnesty International is therefore calling on all governments that criminalize abortion to lift the ban and guarantee it as a health right that women should be able to enjoy.”

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