Beachgoers in Rabat, Morocco
RABAT, Morocco -- Moroccan authorities said Wednesday that a
Dutch ship promoting legal abortions set to dock in Morocco is operating
outside the law and could possibly be stopped before arriving at a
northern Mediterranean port.
The Dutch ship, which promotes safe
and legal abortions worldwide, was invited by a Moroccan women's group
to raise awareness in the struggle to legalize abortions, which are not
allowed in this conservative Muslim country. It is scheduled to arrive
at the port of Smir Thursday.
It would be the "Women on Waves" boat's first landfall in a Muslim country.
haven't been informed about the arrival of this boat and from a
security standpoint, it's a boat we don't know or why it is coming, so I
don't see what we can do," Minister of Interior Mohend Laenser told the
Minister of Education Lahcen Daoudi added that
any boat coming to Morocco had to respect its laws. "The people charged
with applying the law will apply it on everything to do with the boat,"
According to a statement by the organization, the ship
can provide women with safe and legal abortions under Dutch law in
international waters until the six-and-a-half week of pregnancy.
organization said it had set up a hotline for Moroccan women to give
information about abortion, including locally available pharmaceuticals
that can be safely used to perform abortions at home.
between 600 and 800 abortions a day in Morocco, that's an enormous
amount," said Ibtissame Lachgar, a member of MALI (Alternative Movement
for Individual Liberties), the group that invited the boat. "We want to
legalize abortion, to condemn this law that destroys freedom, that we
The Moroccan Health Ministry issued a statement
that if the people on the boat were intending to perform operations,
they would be in violation of the law.
"The Ministry of Health ...
was never informed of this event and has not authorized any party or
doctor, not residing in Morocco, to carry out this medical procedure,"
The Women on Waves organization has previously promoted
controversy and angered authorities in conservative Catholic countries,
where abortion is also often frowned upon.
In 2003, the boat docked in Poland and the following year was prevented from docking in Portugal.