This commentary opens: “Opposition to abortion is so intense that even where women have the legal right to terminate their pregnancy, it can be extremely difficult to access the services needed to exercise that right. But, worse than that, opponents of abortion tend to ignore the failures that lead women to the point where they seek one in the first place.
“From a moral standpoint, there is a strong case to be made for respecting a woman’s personal freedom and bodily autonomy, rather than forcing her to put her health or wellbeing at risk by carrying an unwanted or unsafe pregnancy to term. Yet, given how rife with misinformation and muddied by misplaced arguments the issue is, policy debates often go nowhere unless they frame abortion first and foremost as a health matter. Consider the case of Kenya….”
A thorough, in-depth analysis follows of what is happening in Kenya. The author concludes:
“It is time to address the systemic failures that lead to girls and women ending up maimed or dead. Here, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure: contraception in health budgets, quality comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) in schools, and youth-friendly reproductive-health services.
“But the cure must also be an option. Rules that punish women must be replaced with modern laws – in line with international human-rights frameworks – that protect women’s reproductive freedom, including by guaranteeing access to safe abortion services. Written guidelines to end the victimization of abortion service providers are also needed.
“How can a government that fails to ensure CSE or invest adequately in family planning penalize its women for unwanted pregnancies? How can a society that ignores women’s suffering blame the victims for its inaction? Those who do nothing to prevent unwanted pregnancies – and everything to punish the women affected by them – cannot claim the moral high ground.”
SOURCE: Project-Syndicate. org, by Patricia Nudi Orawo, Advocacy Officer, Kisumu Medical and Education Trust, Kenya, 22 April 2019