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Civil society groups urge for end to arrest of abortion service providers

Civil society organizations have called for an end to the arrest of abortion service providers in the country, terming the actions as a threat to the safety of women in need of emergency abortion services.

“Unsafe abortions remain one of the top causes of maternal mortality and morbidity in Kenya,” said Gordon Ochien’g, Programme Manager at the Trust for Indigenous Culture & Health (TICAH).

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“Access to legal abortion care, which is provided for under Article 26 of the Kenyan Constitution, is thus critical to achieving gender equality and breaking the cycle of poverty particularly for young women and girls.”

The civil society groups have also called on the Government of Kenya to undertake a review of the country’s reproductive health policy and reinstate the guidelines for reducing maternal mortality and morbidity from unsafe abortions in Kenya.

Additionally, the groups have urged for reproductive health financing mechanisms to include commodities for reducing unsafe abortions.

A recent report published by the International Alliance for Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights and Justice, further pointed to widespread misinformation as a key factor behind the noted rise in cases of unsafe abortions in parts of the country.

This is attributed to recent judicial decisions in the United States and in Kenya which have reignited the debate on provision of abortion services in Kenya.

“We are greatly concerned about the erosion of abortion and other sexual and reproductive rights in Kenya,” added Ochien’g.

“There have been judicial directives for parliament to enact laws that align our penal code with the Constitution and for the Ministry of Health to develop a public policy on abortion but the previous government never complied with these directives.”

The developments come in the aftermath of the gathering of UN member states at the 68th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 68) which was held from 11th – 22nd March, 2024.

Participants during the hybrid forum called for the strengthening of national capacities to tackle poverty through gender-responsive social protection systems aimed at reducing poverty among women.

The CSW 68 meeting called for an increase of resources to address poverty among women and girls as a means towards the achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Boniface Mwalii
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