• Most unintended pregnancies and situations prompting abortions result directly or indirectly from lack of family planning or knowledge on it.
• Constitution permits abortion if, in the opinion of a trained medical provider, the health of the mother is at risk or if a written law permits it.
In 2010, Kenya’s Constitution was changed after it was realised that many women were dying due to unsafe abortion while thousands were suffering from complications related to unsafe abortion.
The Constitution permits abortion if, in the opinion of a trained medical provider, the health of the mother is at risk or if a written law–a constitution–permits it.
Many young women and girls continue to die as a result of unsafe abortion. This is largely due to limited knowledge of the Constitution, abortion-related stigma from family and community members, poverty and unpreparedness to bear children and unintended pregnancy. All of these can be associated with the lack of knowledge or use of contraceptives.
In addition, interventions relating to preventing unsafe abortion have not targeted men to be champions of fighting unsafe abortion. In Kenya, seven women die every day while procuring an abortion.
There is a need for communities to be educated more on when abortion is permitted. There is also a need for county governments to ensure a continuous supply of contraceptives to health facilities to address the unmet need for family planning to reduce unintended pregnancies.
Monitoring the activities of health service providers will ensure all health workers practice within the health ethics and regulation, thereby reducing deaths and diseases associated with unsafe abortion.
Finally, we must train men to be champions of safe abortion. This will also reduce sexual and gender-based violence that comes with unintended pregnancies.
Addressing unsafe abortion in the legal context will ensure collaborations between civil society organisations who advocate for safe abortion and the health sector, therefore, the fear associated with aiding medical abortion and maternal deaths associated with unsafe abortion will be eliminated.
Naya Kenya, Nairobi