Standards Are Not Enough: Policy Implementation Remains Central
August 22, 2019
By Melvine P. Ouyo
In 2013, Kenya’s Ministry of Health made the devastating decision to withdraw the Standards and Guidelines for Reducing Morbidity and Mortality from Unsafe Abortion. This caused a huge influx in untrained back street abortions, immense suffering, and the loss of countless lives. After six years of irreversible damage from this decision, Kenya’s High Court issued a clear ruling this summer: the government had violated the rights of Kenyan women and girls by withdrawing the Standards and Guidelines. It was a revolutionary moment for Kenyan communities.
The worldwide movement to give women freedom to choices first culminated at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, Egypt. The conference brought diverse views of human rights, population, sexual and reproductive health, gender equality and sustainable development. It marked a global consensus that placed human dignity and human rights—including the right to plan a family—at the heart of development.
Abortion where mother's health is at risk is a right
Lack of access to safe legal abortion causes many women to resort to illegal, unsafe abortion.
by Betty Odallo, Lucy Minayo and Martin Onyango
20 July 2019
JMM was a 14-year-old schoolgirl, living in rural Kisii when sometime in 2014, she was forced to have sexual intercourse. Due to a lack of information on how to respond to the situation, or whom to approach, she was not able to receive immediate post-rape care, including emergency contraception.
Two months later, JMM discovered she was pregnant. Fearing blame and rejection from her family, she confided in a friend who took her to an untrained person who performed an unsafe abortion on her.
Abortion stigma denies survivors speedy treatment
Medical staff fear in the event that the woman succumbs to illness, the health practitioners will be arrested
by Daniel Otieno, Star Blogs
17 July 2019
Cultures that do not allow pregnancy before marriage and fear by health workers to attend to survivors of unsafe abortion cause a delay in providing post-abortion care hence increasing abortion-related deaths.
At the facilities, medical personnel will not attend to women who had attempted procuring abortion as they fear that in the event that the woman succumbs to illness, the health practitioners will be arrested.
Guidelines can stop unnecessary abortion deaths
Unsafe abortions could be one of the main causes of maternal mortality in Kenya.
By GEORGE MORARA
July 11, 2019
In April 2012, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights released a report on the status of sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls in Kenya. This was the result of a public inquiry following a complaint by the Federation of Women Lawyers and the Centre for Reproductive Rights that, despite having in place a progressive legal and policy framework, women and girls still face sexual and reproductive health violations.
The KNCHR cited several barriers that impede access to quality sexual and reproductive health services — including unavailability of abortion and post-abortion services, lack of accurate and comprehensive information and high cost of services.
Doctors can lead case to change Northern Ireland’s highly restrictive abortion laws
BMJ 2019; 365
Published 28 June 2019
The trusted voices of doctors and medical staff are the key to changing abortion laws to give women in Northern Ireland choice, according to a panel of experts.
The panel—which met in Belfast on 23 June to discuss access to safe abortions—shared their experiences of caring for women and seeing the impact of restrictive abortion laws.
Kenya restores standards and guidelines for comprehensive reproductive health, including abortion
News | Friday, June 21, 2019
Earlier this month, Kenya made progress toward advancing women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and rights: The High Court ruled to restore the standards and guidelines for comprehensive reproductive health, including abortion. The S&Gs were originally instated in 2012 but withdrawn the following year. The reinstatement will allow providers to offer safe abortion care when the health or life of a woman is in danger, in cases of emergency and for survivors of sexual violence. Ipas Africa Alliance partnered with the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) on a case in 2015 challenging the withdrawal. CRR filed the case on behalf of an adolescent who died after suffering from complications from an unsafe abortion. The Federation of Women Lawyers Kenya and human rights activists were also part of the coalition supporting the challenge.
“I am glad that Ipas was able to join other partners in Kenya to support the litigation strategy initiated by CRR,” said Judith Okal, Ipas Africa Alliance senior policy advisor. Okal was an advocate for the petitioner when CRR filed the case and joined Ipas after it was filed.
The court found that the Director of Medical Services and the Ministry of Health had violated the rights of Kenyan women and girls by arbitrarily withdrawing the guidelines, creating uncertainty about the status of legal abortion and discouraging medical providers from performing abortions for fear of criminal prosecution.
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KENYA - Victory in Landmark Ruling Challenging the Withdrawal of 'The Standards & Guidelines'
13 June 2019
On 12 June 2019, the Center for Reproductive Rights won a landmark case challenging the Kenyan government’s withdrawal of the “Standards and Guidelines for Reducing Morbidity and Mortality from Unsafe Abortion in Kenya” (Standards & Guidelines). The Center filed the case on behalf of an adolescent (JMM)—who died last year after suffering from complications that resulted from an unsafe abortion—as well as the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Kenya and two community human rights advocates. The case was presided over by a five-judge bench at the Nairobi High Court.
In this ground-breaking decision, the Court found that the Director of Medical Services and the Ministry of Health had violated the rights of Kenyan women and girls by arbitrarily withdrawing the guidelines, thereby creating uncertainty as to the status of legal abortion and discouraging medical providers from performing abortions for fear of criminal prosecution. It provided a comprehensive ruling which:
The Center wins a major victory for abortion rights in Africa
In a groundbreaking decision, the High Court of Kenya ruled that the Ministry of Health’s 2014 withdrawal of the “Standards and Guidelines for Reducing Morbidity and Mortality from Unsafe Abortion in Kenya” (Standards & Guidelines), and its subsequent ban on abortion trainings for health care professionals, were arbitrary and unlawful. The Standards & Guidelines was an important policy document that guided health care providers on when and how they could provide safe and legal abortion and post-abortion services.
With this ruling, the five-judge bench has resoundingly reaffirmed the constitutional protections for legal abortions in Kenya when the life and health of the pregnant woman is threatened, including for survivors of sexual violence, or in cases of emergency.
Statement by Civil Society Organizations on abortion stigma in Kenya
We the undersigned 12 civil society organizations want to sound the alarm regarding women and girls’ access to sexual and reproductive health services and information, including on abortion.
Statement by Civil Society Organizations on abortion stigma in Kenya
We are specifically concerned about irresponsible billboards with misleading information on abortion that recently were posted in Nairobi. The messages on the billboards will fuel the stigma that surrounds abortion. Every day seven women and girls die from unsafe abortion in Kenya, yet these deaths are entirely preventable. The messaging in these billboards coupled with the misguided actions taken to ban the provision of abortion services by the Marie Stopes Kenya make it necessary for us to intervene.
Reinstate the guidelines on safe abortions
Sunday March 10 2019
By SAOYO TABITHA
On August 4, 2013, Mary Omollo (not her real name), a young house help, was frog-marched from her home in Nairobi’s Mathare slums to Muthaiga Police Station. She was accused of procuring an unsafe abortion.
Mary was humiliated in the full glare of the media. More importantly, she was kept in custody without any medical attention.