Limited grounds for abortion permitted in draft of revised penal code in Morocco

The draft reform of the Penal Code, presented on 26 May to the government, contains new provisions on abortion, which will be allowed in three cases. The first permits abortion up to 90 days of pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. However, a complaint must be filed by the woman and presented to the Attorney General, who will take into account the seriousness of the complaint.Moreover, three days of reflection are required in case the woman changes her mind. She must also be counselled by a social worker, who must inform her of the alternatives (adoption of the child), and risks of abortion [sic].The second ground is for women with mental health problems (troubles mentaux). According to a different article, the bill authorizes abortion to “protect the health of the pregnant woman” but does not specify mental or physical health. The definition of health has not been defined in the bill, but will be established later by the Minister of Health after consultation with the National Association of Doctors. Again, the abortion must take place before 90 days, with the prior authorization of the spouse if the woman is married, her parents if she is not married, or her legal guardian if she is a minor.The third case is fetal malformation (genetic disease or serious malformation of the fetus which cannot be treated). Abortion may take place up to 120 days of pregnancy. If the malformation requires more time to be detected, the time limit may exceed 120 days, but not more than 22 weeks. The National Association of Doctors will also be asked to define the precise list of malformations.In all cases, the abortion shall be carried out by a doctor in a public hospital clinic or other approved clinic. Fines of 10,000–100,000 dirhams for violating this, or if details of the abortion are not recorded by the doctor.The bill must still go to Parliament, be discussed in committee and then voted on in plenary, once finalised.The Association marocaine de lutte contre l’avortement clandestin (Moroccan Association against Clandestine Abortion (AMLAC) held a national seminar on 14 June in Rabat, bringing together NGOs and members of civil society to debate and make proposals to the government to further reform the bill before it is too late.SOURCE: Huffington Post Maghreb, 6 June 2016, 26 May 2016, 26 May 2016 (en français)PHOTO: Meeting on abortion in Rabat, head of AMLAC (right), 11 March 2015