The Dutch ‘abortion boat’ is expected to dock outside of the Moroccan port of Smir on Thursday at 1 p.m., local time. The Dutch organisation, Women on Waves, says Dutch Green Left MP Liesbeth van Tongeren will be among those present to welcome the ship. In a tweet, van Tongeren wrote “abortion is illegal in Morocco, even when a woman has been raped. Safe abortions are a fundamental human right.”
The boat is sailing to Morocco at the invitation of the Alternative Movement for Individual Freedoms (MALI), which is campaigning for the legalisation of abortion in the North African country. The ship sails under the Dutch flag and since it falls under Dutch legislation, Women on Waves can legally terminate pregnancies in international waters.
Abortion is illegal in Morocco, but 600 to 800 abortions are carried out every day in the country. The operations are often unsafe, leading to many deaths, particularly among poor women. Birth control and the morning after pill are available in Morocco.
On Wednesday, the Moroccan Health Ministry said "it has never been informed of this event and has not authorised any non-resident party or doctor in Morocco to carry out abortions". It called on the relevant authorities to prevent the visit from taking place.