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New Prime Minister Surprises Moroccans With Support for Abortion

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by John W. Mlacha, Jan 12, 2012.

  1. J

    John W. Mlacha Verified User

    Jan 12, 2012
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    [h=1]New Prime Minister Surprises Moroccans With Support for Abortion[/h] [h=6]By MARTIN JAY[/h] [h=6]Published: January 11, 2012[/h]

    CASABLANCA — Less than two months after winning power in Morocco’s elections, the moderate Islamic party of Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane is surprising opponents by moving to relax the country’s strict abortion laws.

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    [h=6]Martin Jay[/h] Women at a political rally in Casablanca. The prime minister, who comes from a moderate Islamic party, said he would support an initiative to allow abortion in cases of incest and rape.

    [h=4]Connect With Us on Twitter[/h] Follow @nytimesworld for international breaking news and headlines.

    In an interview last week, a top aide to Mr. Benkirane, Mustapha Khalifi, confirmed media reports that the prime minister would support an initiative to allow abortions in cases of rape and incest.
    Mr. Khalifi, subsequently appointed the communications minister, said in an interview that the government should push ahead with a proposal, drafted by the social and family affairs minister in the previous government, Nouzha Skalli, to address the steep rise both in illegal abortions and in the number of unmarried mothers caught in the poverty trap.
    “We should start dealing with this issue,” Mr. Khalifi said in Rabat. “We can’t ignore it any more.”
    The government’s new position on the issue was unexpected. Before the elections when it was in opposition, Mr. Benkirane’s party, Justice and Development, or P.J.D., took a tough line on moral issues. It lobbied unsuccessfully, for example, for a ban on a performance by the British singer Elton John at the 2010 Mawazine Music Festival because of Mr. John’s homosexuality.

    But the party appears to have acquiesced to a shift in public opinion after a recent rise in back street procedures made abortion a topical political issue.
    On Dec. 12, three weeks after the Justice and Development Party won 107 seats out of 325 in the parliamentary elections, an opinion poll published by the popular French-language magazine Actuel showed that half of respondents wanted abortion to be legalized in cases of incest or rape.
    Morocco is one of the more liberal Muslim countries and allows the early termination of pregnancy, with spousal consent, to save the life of the woman or to preserve her physical or mental health. Still, abortion is stigmatized socially, legally and religiously, and abortions for unmarried women are illegal, resulting in high numbers of illegal terminations. A 2008 study, the most recent available, put the number of abortions in Morocco as high as 600 a day.
    Last week a leading gynecologist, Chafik Chraibi, put the figure even higher. Dr. Chraibi, a professor of gynecology at Mohammed V University in Rabat, who is an ardent campaigner for legalizing abortion, said the real figure “is probably closer to 900 a day, when you take into account the nonmedical abortions carried out at home.”
    “In Morocco, according to the World Health Organization, 13 percent of maternity deaths are from abortions,” he said.
    Women coming to him after botched terminations — often carried out in makeshift operating rooms in filthy basements — were frequently “mutilated,” with many suffering from hemorrhaging uteri or perforated abdomens, Dr. Chraibi said.
    In home abortions, friends, cousins and “traditional midwifes” often perform procedures with herb concoctions and cocktails of aspirin and cola.
    For the few who can afford the lowest priced illegal operation, at 2,000 dirhams, or $230, the abortion is carried out by an enterprising general practitioner in a makeshift operating room. In such cases, the woman risks a prison sentence of up to two years. The doctor, if the patient dies, faces a prison sentence up to 20 years.
    The surge in illegal procedures identified by Dr. Chraibi mirrors a similar rise in the number of unmarried mothers. In Casablanca alone, the sprawling, hectic commercial capital of four million people, 27,000 single unmarried mothers were recorded in 2009, according to the Institution Nationale de Solidarité avec les Femmes en Détresse
  2. AshaDii

    AshaDii Platinum Member

    Jan 12, 2012
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    Indeed peoples traditions and cultures are evolving.... Even I am surprised. Shocked would be the word.