- In Kenya, abortion is prohibited unless there is need for an emergency treatment or the life or health of the mother is in danger.
- Prohibition of abortion does not reduce abortion rates nor does it deter women from getting abortions.
Safe abortion is a part of healthcare and it should be provided to all that need it. The restrictive legal frameworks force people who need the service to access it in unsafe environments where it is not regulated. This increases chances of more complications and even death.
Each year, almost half of all pregnancies in the world are unintended, which is approximately 121 million. Six out of 10 unintended pregnancy and three out of 10 of all pregnancies end in induced abortion. On other hand, 3.9 million girls in the developing world aged 15 – 19 years undergo unsafe abortion yearly.
In Kenya, abortion is prohibited unless, in the opinion of a trained health professional, there is need for an emergency treatment or the life or health of the mother is in danger. Prohibition of abortion does not reduce abortion rates nor does it deter women from getting abortions. In fact abortions rates are similar to countries that do and do not prohibit abortion, and numerous studies and reports from reproductive health and rights organisations prove the same.
According to the Kenya Obstetrical and Gynaecological society, 465,000 abortions occur in Kenya yearly, a majority of them unsafe. Also, statistics from the Centre for Reproductive Rights report that 2,600 deaths occur annually from unsafe abortion in Kenya while 21,000 more women are hospitalised annually due to complications from incomplete and unsafe abortion, whether spontaneous or induced.
Lack of access to safe, affordable, timely and respectful abortion care, and the stigma associated with abortion, poses risks to women’s physical and mental well-being throughout their life. Inaccessibility of quality abortion care risks violating a range of human rights of women and girls, including the right to life; the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; the right to decide freely and responsibly on the number, spacing and timing of children; and the right to be free from torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment
Due to the restriction of abortion, adolescents are most likely to seek abortion from unskilled health professionals or have a self-induced abortion which raises the chance of them to delay or not seek post-abortion care. This is because they don’t know their rights concerning abortion and post-abortion care and they may be afraid of any legal punishment they could face.
When abortion services are restricted by the law, women risk their lives in search for abortion which in most cases are always unsafe and it exposes them to a high significant risk of death, disability and maternal mortality.
Ensuring that women and girls in need of abortion can access abortion that is safe and non-discriminatory is fundamental in achieving the SDGs related to good health and well-being and gender equality. The Ministry of Health continue to ensure that safe and legal abortion is provided and continue to ensure that no one looses their live from unsafe ways of terminating pregnancies.
Reproductive health champion, YEM Kenya