Moroccan King changes abortion laws

Moroccan King Mohammed VI has ordered that laws restricting abortion be loosened, allowing it in the case of rape, incest, danger to the mother's health or fetal malformation.

Debate erupted in this North African kingdom earlier this year over reforming the penal code, which banned abortion except in cases of a threat to the mother's life. The king had his justice minister, religious affairs minister and the head of the state human rights organisation study the issue.

"Their consultations showed that a vast majority of society is for the criminalisation of abortion with the exception of a few cases that would have negative medical, psychological and social repercussions on the woman, fetus, family and society," said a royal statement carried late Friday by the state news agency.

With the exception of Tunisia, where abortion is legal, the practice is highly restricted across the region, with occasional exceptions made for rape, incest or fetal malformations.

Despite the law, abortion is widespread in Morocco, with non-governmental organisations estimating that 600-800 illegal abortions are performed daily. 

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