Medics’ attitude and stigma still a barrier to safe abortion
Law permits abortion in cases where mother's health is at risk
by Daniel Otieno
07 November 2019
The Constitution of Kenya permits abortion if in the opinion of a trained health care provider, the life of the woman is in danger or if a written law permits it. A written law here being any legislation passed by Parliament that permits termination of a pregnancy.
However, despite the Constitution being in place, many women still undergo unsafe abortion including going for backstreet methods and untrained midwives. The attitudes of health workers that are backed by religious values, the stigma associated with an unintended pregnancy, limited conversations between parents and adolescents, a lack of life skills education in schools and limited allocations to improving maternal health contribute to cases of unsafe abortion.
WHO guidelines on abortion will reduce maternal deaths
by Daniel Otieno
25 October 2019
In 1967, the World Health Organization highlighted unsafe abortion as a health issue affecting women.
However, it wasn’t until 1987 when the safe motherhood conference was held in Nairobi that the world understood unsafe abortion as a public health concern. At the International Conference on Population and Development held in Cairo in 1994, governments again identified unsafe abortion as a public health concern and pledged their commitment to reducing the need for abortion through expanded and improved family planning services.
International Safe Abortion Day: Why Kenya needs clarity on safe abortion guidelines
By Purity Nthiana
September 28th, 2019
This weekend, the world will be marking the International Safe Abortion Day, on 28th September. This comes in the wake of the recent High Court ruling to reinstate the 2012 Standards and Guidelines for Reducing Morbidity and Mortality from Unsafe Abortion in Kenya.
While many reproductive health advocates have lauded the court’s decision as a win for women, many Kenyans are still in the dark regarding what the document actually says.
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.
Health ministry must obey court on abortion guidelines
Tuesday July 16 2019
By JOACHIM OSUR
The High Court recently nullified the Ministry of Health’s withdrawal of service delivery standards and guidelines and a training curriculum on abortion that had been in force for close to six years.
When the current Constitution was being written, abortion was a major contentious issue. Some campaigners against the draft used abortion to get votes at the referendum. Many of abortion-based arguments were confusing, with opponents out to convince all and sundry that the new Constitution would open floodgates for abortion.
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:
Ambiguity in abortion guidelines causing death of women and girls
Monday March 11 2019
By EVELYNE OPONDO
The International Women’s Day provides an opportunity to reflect on the progress we have made towards gender equality — and we must as well consider the work that still needs to be done to ensure women and girls can participate with dignity as equal members of society.
Improving maternal health outcomes is an integral component in achieving gender equality. While the maternal mortality rate has declined in Kenya, the risk of women dying from pregnancy complications remains high.
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.
Kenyan activist's death in botched abortion spotlights 'killer' backstreet clinics
February 15, 2019
NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The death of a Kenyan activist due a botched abortion spotlights how thousands of pregnant women and girls are being driven by social stigma and restrictive policies to lose their lives in backstreet clinics, human rights campaigners said on Friday.
Caroline Mwatha disappeared on Feb. 6 in Dandora, a poor neighborhood in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, where she lived and campaigned against the abusive treatment of people in police custody, raising alarm among rights groups.
Kenya's high court to decide on safe abortion as teenager dies
July 12, 2018
NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Kenya’s high court is to decide if the government is responsible for the death of a teenager from a botched backstreet abortion, campaigners said on Thursday, in a case which could see safer abortions for thousands of women in the east African nation.
The girl - known by her initials JMM to protect her identity - was raped in 2014 at the age of 15. On discovering she was pregnant, she had a backstreet abortion that left her with injuries which eventually led to her death last month.