A Moroccan journalist, her fiance, and a doctor were sentenced to prison Monday for procuring and performing an abortion. The country’s penal code bars abortion except in cases when the mother’s life is endangered.
Hajar Raissouni, 28, was sentenced Sept. 30 to a year imprisonment for procuring an abortion and for fornication.
Her fiance, Rifaat al-Amin, was also given a years’ imprisonment, and her doctor was given two years in prison and a two-year ban on practising medicine.
An anaesthetist and a medical assistant were given suspended sentences of one year, and eight months, respectively.
Raissouni writes for Akhbar Al-Yaoum, which is critical of the Moroccan government.
Prosecutors have said her arrest has “nothing to do with her profession as a journalist,” but some worry it is politically motivated.
Abdelmoula El Marouri, Raissouni’s lawyer, told Reuters, “we’re shocked by this verdict,” and said he will appeal.
Raissouni was arrested Aug. 31 as she left the clinic.
Saad Sahli, a lawyer for Raissouni and al-Amin, said that Raissouni had been receiving treatment for internal bleeding at the clinic where she was arrested.
After her arrest, Raissouni was taken to hospital where she was given a gynecological exam.
Prosecutors say there were indications of pregnancy and that she had received a “late voluntary abortion.”
Rabat officials have also indicated the clinic where the five were arrested if being surveilled, after reports that abortions are regularly procured there.
Raissouni and al-Amin have been religiously, but not legally, married.
Sunni Islam is the established religion of Morocco. The country has strict rules on moral behavior and has criminalized debauchery and adultery.
According to a group that support abortion rights, most abortion-related arrests in the country involve medical officials, and only rarely do they include the women who procure abortions.
In 2018, Moroccan courts tried more than 14,500 people for debauchery; 3,048 for adultery; 170 for homosexuality; and 73 for abortions, AFP reported.