The Moroccan government has approved a series of amendments to the country’s Penal Code, including one on the cases in which abortion is allowed.
According to Article 453 of the Penal Code, abortion was only allowed if the mother’s physical health was threatened.
The new amendment, which comes as part of efforts to reform the country’s Penal Code in accordance with the 2011 constitution, allows abortion in cases of rape, incest and fetal impairment.
Islamic Sharia law, on which Morocco’s laws are based, forbids abortion based on the principle of the sanctity of life.
However, based on another Sharia principle which encourages Muslims to choose the lesser of two evils, lawmakers agreed to allow abortion if the pregnancy threatens the life of the mother.
Moroccan health minister al-Hussein Louardi has previously voiced support for legalizing abortion.
Last year, he told Telquel magazine that he believed a woman should have control over her own body.
“I think it is absolutely necessary to legalize abortion, because it is not only a medical problem but also a social problem,” he said.
The debate on Morocco’s abortion law was opened by King Mohammed VI last year after the Moroccan Association for the Fight against Clandestine Abortion (Almac) reported that 800 illegal abortions were performed daily nationwide.
Dr. Chafik Chraibi, Almac founder and leading activist against illegal abortion in Morocco, was behind the study.
In February 2015, he was fired from his job of 30 years as a gynaecologist for allowing TV crews to expose the reality of unsafe abortions.
Moroccan women who cannot afford the illegal abortions in clinics, due to their high cost, resort to untrained medics to perform the procedure, which can lead to serious complications.
According to a World Health Organisation report, 47,000 women die from unsafe abortions each year in developing countries.
“Nearly half of all abortions worldwide are unsafe, and nearly all unsafe abortions (98 percent) occur in developing countries,” the report found.
“In the developing world, 56% of all abortions are unsafe, compared with just 6% in the developed world.”
Abortion advocates argue that the procedure, performed under the right conditions, has proven to save lives.
They limit maternal and child mortality, as well as empower women, therefore supporting development goals.
It particularly protects young girls, allowing them to pursue education and employment and raise healthy children when they are ready, ending the cycle of poverty.