MOROCCO – Justice Minister proposes reform of the Penal Code on criminalisation of abortion, sex outside marriage, and more

The right to abortion = the right to life 

Moroccan Justice Minister Abdellatif Ouhabi is proposing reforms to Morocco’s Penal Code. Speaking to Moroccan news outlet Le360 earlier this week, he said that the draft text for the new Penal Code is “ready and can be presented to the parliament”. “Regarding sensitive points of this code, such as the possibility of granting more individual freedoms, mutually consensual sexual relations outside marriage, and shared guardianship of children, among others, it is necessary that all the answers to these questions obtain a green light from the government, religious and parliamentary authorities.”

Article 453 of the Moroccan penal code criminalises abortion unless the woman’s life is at risk. Over the years, activists have been calling on the government to allow abortion as a legal right to prevent unsafe abortions and deaths. This demand was given new vigour in September 2022 after a 14-year-old girl lost her life due to unsafe abortion. The photo above is from a protest at that time by the Fédération des Ligues des Droits des Femmes. The decision to decriminalise abortion aims to “limit the recurrence of the tragedy,” with a “radical and comprehensive” reform in Morocco’s criminal law in line with the constitution and international covenants.

The women’s association Spring of Dignity Alliance has called for decriminalising “medical abortion” as well, and regulating it within a public health code that aligns with the World Health Organization’s recommendations. They denounced this “heinous act and the double violence that the girl was subjected to, including rape that resulted in pregnancy, and a clandestine abortion in unsafe conditions despite her deteriorating health condition, that resulted in “severe bleeding” and her death.”

SOURCES: Morocco World News, by Safaa Kasraoui, 21 February 2023 ; Morocco World News, by Sara Zouiten, 15 September 2022 ; Open Democracy, by Vanessa Sarmiento Alarcon, Laura Valentina Cortés Sierra + PHOTO by Laura Valentina Cortés Sierra