Moroccans voiced opposition on Wednesday to the imminent arrival of a Dutch “abortion boat,” on its first visit to a Muslim country to provide abortions to women that organisers say might otherwise be exposed to grave health risks.
Chafik Chraibi, who heads a Moroccan NGO that seeks to perform abortions legally, also opposed the visit.
The Dutch non-profit organisation Women on Waves, which is organising the visit, says the ship will arrive at Smir, in northern Morocco on Thursday afternoon, around 40 kilometres (25 miles) east of Tangier.
Many in Morocco expect it to be turned away.
The Dutch group says the purpose of the visit is to provide women with “safe legal medical abortions” up to 6.5 weeks into pregnancy, in a country where the practice is illegal and taboo and can expose women to grave health risks.
It also said it will set up a hotline to inform women about safe medical abortions that can be induced at home.
Doctor Rebecca Gomperts, the founder of Women on Waves, told AFP that around 600 to 800 Moroccan women have an abortion every day.
This leads to the deaths of 78 Moroccan women each year on average, Gomperts claimed, citing statistics provided by the World Health Organisation.
But Moroccan pro-life groups deny those figures, and dispute the motives of the local youth group the Alternative Movement for Individual Liberties (MALI) that is helping to organise the visit.