Morocco is loosening its abortion laws, allowing the procedure in cases of rape, incest, danger to the mother’s health and fetal deformities.
Moroccan King Mohammed eased the restriction after consulting with his justice and religious affairs ministers and the head of the state civil rights organization.
"Their consultations showed that a vast majority of society is for the criminalization 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, according to the Associated Press.
Abortion is highly restricted across the North African region except in Tunisia, where the procedure is legal.
Nongovernmental agencies say, despite the restrictions in Morocco, an estimated 600 to 800 illegal abortions are performed daily. In the conservative society, bearing a child out of wedlock disgraces a woman and her family. Instead, women turn to illegal, often unsafe, abortion or deliver but then abandon infants.
Pressure for reform arose after the December firing of Dr. Chafik Chraibi, obstetrics chief at Rabat’s Maternity hospital, who’d criticized tight restrictions that led to unsafe procedures. The AP reported that Chraibi was reinstated after some debate among intellectuals, and in March the king established a committee to explore broader access to abortion.