465,000 illegal abortions performed annually in Kenya

Written By: Hallyghan Agade

The case will be heard by a five judge bench this week.

It is estimated that approximately 465,000 illegal abortions are performed in Kenya each year by untrained people.

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Center for Reproductive Rights-CRC further says that one out of three girls under the age of 18 experience sexual violence and over 40 percent of pregnancies are unintentional.

However, health practitioners and health rights advocates are blaming Government and religious organizations saying that they are the greatest impediment to advocacy and information regarding Reproductive Health Rights in the country.

They are arguing that the implementation of these rights would reduce unsafe abortions in the country.

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Jeremiah Maina, the National Secretary at the Clinical Nursing Society of Kenya says the Government must relook afresh into the standards and guidelines that it revoked and which were meant to reduce morbidity and mortality from unsafe abortion.

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“It is true that the country is facing a shortage in contraceptives as a direct consequence of overdependence on donor funding”, Maina submits.

He says this will result in unwanted pregnancies which will see women troop to backstreet untrained professionals to procure unsafe abortions something that he puts the blame squarely on the Government.

On its part CRC moved to the high court in 2015 and filed a suit against the Attorney General, the Ministry of Health and the Director of Medical Services on behalf of The Federation of Women Lawyers-FIDA after the ministry of health revoked guidelines on safe abortion and consequently wrote a memo prohibiting safe abortion trainings for health care professionals.

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“The Memo prohibiting safe abortion training for health care professionals violate a number of human rights for both women and health workers, including the rights to health, information, and the enjoyment of the benefits of scientific progress, among others”, CRC submitted.

The case will be heard by a five-judge bench this week.

CRS says that without clear standards and guidelines for abortion, many qualified health workers refuse to treat women for fear of possible prosecution.

Further over a third of maternal deaths in the country are as a result of unsafe abortion.

The media also came under sharp scrutiny for allegedly letting politics and religious views cloud their reportage while neglecting facts on abortion. The media is said to be not reporting issues on abortion mainly because of skewed editorial interests, media ownership, religious views and political interests.

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The Center is, therefore, urging the High Court to protect women’s health and lives by restoring safe abortion training and calling on the Ministry of Health to introduce standards and guidelines that appropriately clarify when a legal abortion can be provided based on the grounds set forth in the Constitution.

It is also calling for both the Ministry of Health and the Director of Medical Services to adopt effective administrative measures so women and health professional are aware of the sexual violence guidelines and that survivors of sexual violence can access safe and legal abortion.

Abortion, however, remains illegal in Kenya and is only permitted when the life of a mother is in danger.

 

 

 

 

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