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January 13, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Morocco’s new prime minister, Abdelilah Benkriane, is intent upon legalizing abortion in the northern African country, according to the New York Times.

According to the news agency, the government’s spokesman and minister of communication, Mustapha El Khalfi, told reporters that Prime Minister Benkriane “would support an initiative to allow abortions in cases of rape and incest” in the words of the Times.

“We should start dealing with this issue. We can’t ignore it any more,” Khalfi reportedly said.

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The new government’s position parallels a similar attitude expressed in October by the previous administration. Although Benkriane’s Justice and Development Party has defended traditional morality in the past, it appears to have acquiesced in the face of a media campaign exposing “back alley” abortions in the country. Morocco has also been under pressure for years from a variety of international organizations to legalize the deadly procedure.

Morocco, a relatively liberal country in the context of Islamic nations, reportedly has a high abortion rate, and a recent poll by Actuel magazine found that half of the respondents want abortion to be legalized in incest and rape cases. However, respect for the right to life continues to be an issue of importance to a large number of Moroccans, and supporters of legalization will face an uphill battle in the nation’s parliament.

Moroccan feminist Aincha Ech-Channa, founder of the Feminine Solidarity association, told the Moroccan news site Yabiladi that abortion is not the answer to the problems faced by single women, although she did agree with legalizing abortion in rape cases.

“It is a viscous circle!” she said. “I think that it is necessary to abolish the laws that punish women who have sexual relations before marriage and do not give any status and right to their children, because many single women are obligated ultimately to become prostitutes to live.”

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