RABAT, Morocco, October 2, 2012 ( – The Dutch abortionist organisation Women on Waves has announced that they will be sending their abortion ship to Morocco this week to offer illegal abortions to women there. The announced visit will occur against the backdrop of the relatively recent election of the Islamic Justice and Development Party (PJD), considered by the US State Department a “moderate Islamist” party. The party won a hastily called election last November amidst Morocco’s version of the Arab Spring uprisings.

To the surprise of many international onlookers, the new Prime Minister, Abdelilah Benkirane, announced that he wanted to see Morocco loosen its existing restrictions on abortion only two months after the November election.

The abortion ship offers to use the abortion drug regimen called RU-486, a combination of Mifepristone and Misoprostol, for women with early term pregnancies. Women on Waves claims that according to international law, if the boat is outside a 12-mile radius from shore, Dutch law applies to the boat, allowing “medical” or chemical abortions on board.


But according to reports, few actual abortions are carried out on the ship; instead, it is mainly a method of generating publicity for local abortion campaigners. The group claims to have “created enormous public interest in its efforts and has completed successful campaigns in Ireland (2001), Poland (2003,) and Portugal (2004), and Spain (2008).”

In a press release re-released by Women on Waves, the Alternative Movement for Individual Freedoms (MALI), called an anti-Islamic “youth group” by some African media, admitted that they had invited Women on Waves to bring their ship to Morocco. MALI, who recently made headlines around the Arab world for protesting the country’s Islamic laws requiring fasting during Ramadan, said they “invited Women on Waves to support the movement for legalization of abortion.”

The Women on Waves abortion ship has received less than enthusiastic greetings from many of the countries it has visited. In 2003, when it went to Poland, the ship was searched for illegal abortion drugs by customs officials. It was later pelted with eggs and paint by a large group of students protesting its presence in Gdansk, the cradle of the Polish Solidarity movement. The Archbishop of Gdansk, Tadeusz Goclowski, said, “We must not let criminals enter our territorial waters and perform crimes on our children.”

In 2004, the Portuguese government refused the ship permission to enter Portugal’s territorial waters, a decision that was later upheld by the country’s courts. Then-secretary of state for sea affairs, Nuno Fernandes Thomaz, told the daily newspaper Diraio de Noticias, “If the ship decides to disrespect the orders of the Portuguese government it will have to get round a navy vessel”.

In 2007, when Women on Waves founder Rebecca Gomperts went to Malta to deliver a lecture in favour of legalized abortion, she was met by more protesters who held a candlelight vigil outside the lecture venue and the press conference had to be closed to the public. 

While pro-abortion activists have claimed that abortion is illegal in Morocco, the law actually allows abortion for the health or life of the mother. Under the law, the abortion must be done by a physician and requires the consent of the husband.

Like many other developing countries influenced by western population control groups, the Moroccan government considers the overall fertility rate of 2.19 children per woman, barely above the rate of replacement, as too high and is actively promoting contraception.

Abortionist groups insist that it is in order to combat maternal mortality that abortion must be legalised. However, the numbers show that the rate of maternal mortality relatively low for a developing nation with 100 maternal deaths/100,000 live births. Morocco also enjoys a relatively high overall female life expectancy of 79.3 years, and a comparatively stable and productive economy in which women play a prominent part.

Perhaps boosted by the statement of support from Prime Minister Benkirane, recently the pressure to legalize abortion has heated up. In June, the Moroccan Association of the Fight Against Clandestine Abortion held a conference in Rabat at which it was claimed that 600 illegal abortions were carried out each day in the country, mainly on poor women.

The group’s president, gynecologist Dr. Chafik Chraibi, told local media that, while his group does not “encourage” abortion, the legal restrictions must be lifted “to ensure that it is done in good conditions”. This should be added to efforts to do “as much as possible [to avoid] unwanted pregnancies, the source of much harm,” Chraibi added.

The international population control movement is working hard in Morocco. In 2011, the Association Marocaine de Planification Familiale (AMPF), an affiliate of International Planned Parenthood, brought 100,000 condoms, 340,000 other “contraceptive services”, 404,000 other “sexual and reproductive health services” and 185,000 un-specified “services” to young people under 25 years.