By Michael Okun Oliech, Naya Kenya Youth Advocate
According to article 26 of the 2010 Kenyan constitution, Abortion is not permitted in Kenya unless, in the opinion of a trained health professional, there is need for emergency treatment, or the life or health of the mother is in danger, or if permitted by any other written law.
Despite this strict law against abortion, women and adolescent girls are still having abortions in the country. According to the Ministry of health over 500,000 abortions are procured every year in Kenya and three quarters of these abortions are unsafe. Moreover, over 25,000 women go to government hospitals with complications due to unsafe abortion and more than 2,600 women die annually from unsafe abortion here in Kenya.
Making abortion illegal does not stop it from occurring but instead it drives it underground forcing women to seek unsafe and risky abortion procedures which are often performed by untrained providers and many even try to perform abortions on themselves. The consequences of this can be horrific. Unsafe abortion may lead to serious and permanent injuries and eventually death. Unsafe abortion is the leading cause of maternal death in Kenya.
The best way to reduce abortions in this country is not by outlawing it but by helping women avoid unintended pregnancies in the first place through investing more in contraception and family planning. By doing so, unintended pregnancies would decline, we will have fewer abortions and most importantly thousands of women lives will be saved.
It is estimated that even where there is high contraceptive use, there will always be a need for abortion. By legalizing and offering safe abortion services including post abortion care, many lives could be saved.
It’s a basic right for each and every woman to make her own decision about whether and when to have a child without putting her health or life at risk.
Denying women the ability to choose to end an unwanted pregnancy under safe and legal conditions is a violation of human rights and flies in the face of the empowerment agenda. Empowerment means full-participation, autonomy, and equality. It means destroying the barriers that prevent women from achieving their full potential. Women will not be equal until they can control if, when and how many children they have.
It’s time for Kenya to make that right a reality by investing in contraception/family planning and legalizing safe abortion
KENYA SOLIDARITY REQUEST – we are calling on all Campaign members to sign and share this petition.