Moroccan authorities have arrested three doctors and a pilot involved in facilitating abortions.
Rabat – Moroccan authorities have arrested three doctors and a pilot involved in facilitating abortions.
The suspects faced preliminary court proceedings yesterday in Marrakech.
The 24 year old pilot was arrested for bringing back the drug “Artotec” from Spain, and supplying it to the doctors who were also arrested.
Artotec is usually used to treat rheumatism and joint problems, but can also trigger an abortion.
Morocco banned sales of the drug in July 2018.
Abortion is a criminal offence in Morocco. Both the doctor carrying out the abortion and the woman receiving it can be charged for a criminal offence. Moroccan criminal law only tolerates abortion when aborting is deemed necessary to “preserve the health of the mother” and when the woman’s partner has authorized it.
In 2016, the Moroccan government agreed in principle to change the law to also legalize abortion in cases of rape, incest, situations where the mother has serious mental health issues, or when the fetus has a serious illness or malformation. Since then, however, the Parliament has not taken any steps to change the law.
The pilot and doctors’ scheme was uncovered during the separate trial of two women for an illegal abortion, where the women revealed the name of their abortion doctor.
The doctor initially denied claims, but later admitted to the charges.
According to Moroccan newspaper H24, the doctor met the pilot at a party in Marrakech and together they decided to start the project, along with two interns.
The doctor revealed he had been carrying out abortions in a private house for three years, making at least MAD 3000 (approximately $312) per abortion.
Abortion in Morocco
A 2016 report by the Moroccan Association for Family Planning (AMPF) found that between 50 000 to 80 000 abortions were carried out in Morocco every year. Illegal abortions in Morocco cause 4.2% of maternal death.
According to the World Health Organisation, abortion mortality accounts for 13% of maternal deaths globally.
Some Moroccan doctors actively support abortion.
Professor Chafik Chraibi is a gynaecologist in Rabat, and also runs an association fighting to change laws on abortions (AMLAC).
“Many women seek help from us, but our hands are bound by the law restricting abortions,” he told Al Jazeera.
“I receive different women with unwanted pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. I also receive parents who bring their underage or mentally ill daughters. This is why I fight,” he added.