Moroccan warships met Dutch abortion rights activists Women on Waves outside the port of Smir, preventing the group from docking their ship to spread awareness about safe medical abortions in the Muslim country.
The group, founded in 1999, operates a ship that provides family planning services, information and trainings outside territorial waters in countries where abortion is illegal. The Moroccan trip was part of a larger campaign to raise awareness about the safety of medical abortions and to provide medical abortion services on the ship on international waters for women who needed such services.
In Morocco, like a lot of other Muslim states, abortion is illegal and punishable by steep prison sentences. Outlawing abortion though hasn’t made the need disappear. Women on Waves estimates that between 600-800 illegal abortions take place in Morocco daily. Most are carried out in underground clinics or using homeopathic herbal medicines and all are carried out in conditions much riskier than if the procedure were legal.
Women on Waves have made similar visits to traditionally Roman Catholic countries like Spain, Portugal and Ireland in the past and continue to visit countries where access to abortion services are cut off, ensuring women across the globe have access to safe family planning services.
It’s a critical need and one that is becoming more acute as conservatives take their fight against women’s autonomy and comprehensive family planning global. Like in the United States, religious organizations increasingly provide and run more and more social services abroad and restrict abortion and family planning assistance from those services provided. The results are devastating to women across the globe.
The fight for abortion access in countries like Morocco serves as a good reminder of what’s on the line in the fight for abortion rights stateside. Abortion was illegal at one time in this country, and conservatives are doing all they can to make that fact a reality again. In places like Mississippi, where the state’s only clinic is on the verge of being regulated out of existence, it almost is a reality. How long till Women on Waves docks outside of Biloxi?
Photo from Svadilfari via flickr.