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September 18, 2018

Children by choice, not chance

“children by choice, not chance” ideology.
“children by choice, not chance” ideology.

In 2014 the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS) found that 36 per cent of births in the preceding five years were reported as unintended or mistimed and this figure rises to 47 per cent among adolescents.

 The study also found unsafe abortions are estimated to account for 35 per cent of maternal deaths – a figure significantly higher than the global average of 13 per cent. This equates to an average of seven women daily or 2,600 deaths annually.

 Abortion is an emotive and extremely divisive issue all over the world, and it is no different in Kenya. Previously, the 1970 Penal Code stated that any person who intended to procure the miscarriage of a woman would be guilty of a felony, liable to imprisonment for 14 years.

 It was not until the 2010 Constitution when this was changed with Article 26 (4) stating:

 “Abortion is not permitted unless in the opinion of a trained health care professional, if there is a need for emergency treatment or the life or health of the mother  in danger, or if permitted by any other written law.”

 According to research conducted by Ipas Health Alliance in Kenya, nearly 500,000 abortions are conducted in Kenya every year, with 20,000 of them in government health centers.

 Abortion is an emotive and extremely divisive issue all over the world, and it is no different in Kenya. Previously, the 1970 Penal Code stated that any person who intended to procure the miscarriage of a woman would be guilty of a felony, liable to imprisonment for 14 years.

 Whereas fear of being stigmatised for having an abortion leads to having it done illegally because there is no aftercare and because the consequences of doing it are so high, women are less likely to seek medical help causing more deaths. Not only is there a significant loss of life, but there is an additional strain on the already burdened health system.

 According to a report by the Ministry of Health and the African Population and Health Research Center, Kenya has spent Sh533 million treating complications of unsafe abortions in public health facilities. It is important to remember that there are many more unreported cases.

 Studies demonstrate that it is far more affordable to prevent unwanted pregnancies than it is to treat the complexities that emerge from unsafe abortions. Specialists recommend tending to the drivers of unsafe abortions by upgrading the access to contraceptives, comprehensive sexuality education and honest discussions with adolescents about the best way to avoid unwanted pregnancies.

 

What to do

 

Studies demonstrate that it is far more affordable to prevent unwanted pregnancies than it is to treat the complexities that emerge from unsafe abortions.

Specialists recommend tending to the drivers of unsafe abortions by upgrading the access to contraceptives, comprehensive sexuality education and honest discussions with adolescents about the best way to avoid unwanted pregnancies. We should be operating on a “children by choice, not chance” ideology.

Abortions are a serious issue facing a number of women in Kenya, and if you find yourself with an unplanned pregnancy, you are not alone. For a free health assessment and advice on your safe options call Marie Stopes Kenya on 0800720005.

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