Morocco’s Hidden Abortion Market: Women’s Desperate Choice

Sun May 26 2024
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RABAT, Morocco: Asmaa, a 37-year-old mother in Morocco, faced a harrowing decision: her gynaecologist informed her about online platforms where women obtained abortion pills clandestinely.

With Moroccan law permitting abortion only in cases of imminent health danger, Asmaa turned to the illicit market, navigating Facebook’s Marketplace for misoprostol tablets, despite the risks and lack of medical supervision.

In Morocco, abortion carries severe legal consequences, pushing women to resort to clandestine methods. The ban on drugs like Arthrotec and Cytotec, often used for abortions, has not halted the practice. Instead, between 600 and 800 secret abortions occur daily, facilitated by a thriving underground network.

Trafficking in abortion pills is lucrative, with prices inflated up to tenfold. On Facebook, sellers offer pills for exorbitant prices, providing little to no guidance on usage or dosage, leaving women vulnerable to misinformation and potential harm.

Imane, like many others, felt uneasy about the online sellers’ credibility. Despite the risks, she sought a surgical abortion, which proved financially unattainable. Eventually, she turned to the Alternative Movement for Individual Liberties (MALI), an organization providing free abortion pills imported from abroad. Trained by Women on Waves, MALI offers crucial support and guidance to women navigating the complexities of clandestine abortions.

The situation has drawn international attention, with Amnesty International calling for decriminalization. Yet, Moroccan authorities remain silent, leaving women to grapple with dangerous choices in a conservative society.

Chafik Chraibi, head of the Moroccan Association to Fight Clandestine Abortion (AMLAC), highlights the societal and political barriers hindering progress. Despite growing calls for change, deeply ingrained norms and lack of political will impede legal reforms.

Asmaa’s story reflects the profound impact of restrictive laws on women’s autonomy and health. Travelling hundreds of kilometers to access abortion pills, she expresses frustration at having others dictate her reproductive choices.

In Morocco, the shadowy world of clandestine abortions underscores the urgent need for legal reform and comprehensive reproductive health services. Until then, women like Asmaa and Imane continue to navigate perilous paths in pursuit of their rights and bodily autonomy.

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