Morocco refuses entry of Dutch “abortion vessel”


Morocco on Thursday blocked the entry of a Dutch “abortion ship” into one of its ports in a campaign group’s first attempt to visit a Muslim country to raise awareness about safe methods of abortion.

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RABAT – Morocco on Thursday blocked the entry of a Dutch “abortion ship” to one of its ports in a campaign group’s first attempt to visit a Muslim country to raise awareness of safe methods abortion.

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The Women on Waves ship, which has previously visited traditionally Catholic countries like Spain, Portugal and Ireland at the invitation of local women’s groups, had planned to arrive in Smir, in northern Morocco, but was refused entry.

“The port is totally blocked by warships, so no one can enter it, and there are a lot of police here,” said Marlies Schellekens, a Women on Waves doctor who had been ashore.

“We are now working on an emergency plan, but we have opened our hotline for women to call for information on the abortion pill. “

The group, which was invited to Morocco by the rights group Alternative Movement for Individual Freedoms (MALI), wants to raise awareness on earth about the use of pills for medical abortion and said it would perform abortions on board. of the ship in international waters.

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As in other Muslim countries, abortion is illegal and punishable by up to 20 years in prison under Moroccan law, but hundreds of illegal abortions are performed daily in clinics or with the help of herbal medicines. plants, sometimes resulting in death or injury.

“In Morocco, between 600 and 800 abortions are performed every day, but only 250 are performed by doctors, so they are safer, while others take risks,” said Schellekens.

There was no immediate comment from officials on Thursday, but on Wednesday Home Secretary Mohand Laenser, a secular member of the government led since December by moderate Islamists, said the ship would not be allowed to reach the Morocco.

“The organizers never contacted us to ask for permission to visit Morocco,” Laenser told Reuters. “Besides, we won’t let them in.

Every year, hundreds of single mothers are forced to give up or give their babies up for adoption due to the stigma associated with abortion and premarital pregnancy.

The Moroccan Association Against Clandestine Abortion said in June that abortion legislation was out of touch with the country’s social realities and that the number of unsafe abortions required political commitment to change.

Organizers of an all-gay cruise in June blamed Moroccan authorities for canceling what would have been the first such visit to a Muslim country.

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