STIGMA

Denial of abortion services violates women’s rights

Ruling allowing abortion will reduce maternal deaths, give women right to health

In Summary

• Approximately seven women and girls die daily as a result of unsafe abortion. 

• Ruling affirmed that any survivor of rape or defilement has a right of accessing safe and legal abortion services. 

The post abortion care pocket guide approved by the Ministry of Health
MORTALITY RATES: The post abortion care pocket guide approved by the Ministry of Health
Image: COURTESY

Approximately seven women and girls die daily as a result of unsafe abortion whereas Sh533 million is used in treating complications related to unsafe abortion. Many of these women are left infertile or with lifelong disabilities and haemorrhage.

Girls and women in informal settlements are mostly affected, coupled with abortion-related stigma. Restrictive laws on termination of pregnancy result in women seeking services from unqualified medical personnel where the minimum cost is Sh1,500 not forgetting the limited chances of survival and complications.

The landmark ruling on the reinstatement of guidelines on reduction of maternal mortality and morbidity was a huge eye-opener on how women and girls are denied the right to accessing quality and responsive sexual reproductive health information and services.

The five-judge bench showed the entire world that women’s rights must be protected at all costs. The ruling was also an affirmation that any survivor of rape or defilement has a right of accessing safe and legal abortion services.

The World Health Organization defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Therefore, abortion-related stigma and denial of services violate the right to health. For a Kenyan woman, the landmark ruling is a victory and the start of a new journey towards equality and state protection of human rights.

The court declaration will also ensure health service providers are trained on safe abortion care including training on value clarification and attitude transformation. This will reduce judgmental attitudes by health workers while offering safe abortion services.

 

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