Case against Kenyan government for violating national and international law relating to abortion heard in High Court Kenyan Constitution was amended in 2010 to allow abortion when the life or health of a pregnant woman is at risk. The wording is: “Abortion is not permitted 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.”In 2012, almost 120,000 women were admitted to public hospitals and health centres for abortion-related complications, due to unsafe abortions.In October 2012, the Ministry of Medical Services published “Standards and Guidelines for Reducing Morbidity and Mortality from Unsafe Abortion in Kenya”. Ipas reported at the time that the then director of medical services “call[ed] upon all caregivers to acquaint themselves with the guidelines and use them as working tools for the benefit of patients”. Ipas Africa Alliance’s then policy director Joachim Osur reported that: “The guidance is based on the overarching premise that all Kenyans—including young people and adolescents – have the right to freely decide the timing, number and spacing of children and that everyone will have equitable access to reproductive and sexual health information, education and services. In Article 43 of the Bill of Rights, the Kenyan Constitution has elevated health, including reproductive health, to a human right that must be protected. The standards and guidelines are developed with this in mind.”The legal reform and guidelines were aimed at decreasing the country’s high rates of maternal mortality and morbidity resulting from unsafe abortion. This has not been achieved, however. In December 2013, the Ministry withdrew the Guidelines, and in February 2014 instituted a ban on safe abortion training for health care professionals, which led to great confusion as to when legal abortions could be provided.In June 2015, the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a case against the Attorney General, the Ministry of Health and the Director of Medical Services of Kenya on behalf of the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Kenya, two community human rights mobilisers, an adolescent rape survivor suffering from kidney failure and other health complications due to an unsafe abortion, and on behalf of all Kenyan women of reproductive age who were denied access to safe abortions. They said that the Ministry’s actions also prohibited health workers from participating in training that had anything to do with safe abortion, or the use of medical abortion pills, whether for post-abortion care or safe abortions. at: July 2015The case was heard in the High Court in February 2015. This case is the first of its kind in Kenya; it challenges the Ministry of Health’s actions as a violation of the Constitution and of international law. “By prohibiting training on safe abortion care, the Ministry’s memo withdrawing the guidelines deters health workers through the threat of prosecution from providing safe, legal abortion or post-abortion care,” the petitioners said. They called on the Ministry of Health to clarify when medical workers could provide safe, legal abortion services. They asked the High Court to issue a declaration that the rights of women and health workers had been violated, called for new guidelines, urged the court to order government officials not to interfere with health care workers’ professional training, and said patients ought to have access to medical information.Dr Muraguri, for the Ministry, explained why the guidelines were withdrawn, including that they were not representative of key Ministry of Health stakeholders whose names were on the document. He said any document that involved the lives and welfare of many people, and especially one that affected different faiths and beliefs, was difficult to complete, especially in light of the requirements of public participation as spelt out in the Constitution. He was also reported as saying that “allowing any unpermitted training of health workers on abortion could lead to a national catastrophe because the Ministry would not be responsible for the quality of such training”. He claimed that there was sufficient post-abortion care available for unsafe abortion complications, at great cost to the state, and that the Ministry feared that the “unauthorised teaching of health workers on how to offer abortion services would spawn a wave of illegal abortions countrywide”.On 19 February, High Court Judge Isaac Lenaola referred the matter to Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, and asked him to constitute a bench of judges to hear and determine the case, as the petition was raising many substantial questions of law. “It cannot be contested that abortion as a subject is a matter of great public concern and interest,” Justice Lenaola said. “Moral, ethical, legal and factual questions with debatable and difficult implications would arise in determining what constitutes safe abortion.”