By Winnie Kabintie
Abortion is illegal in Kenya but this has not stopped women from procuring it, in fact like any other outlawed activity, it has become a cash cow both for both medics and quacks.
As it’s loosely said in social circles; “procuring an abortion in Kenya is just as easy as being treated for malaria as long as you can pay for it”.
“I know of a very reputable, high-end private hospital in Nairobi, which procures abortion from Sh 75,000, of course it’s done discretely but they do it,” Ann Mutheu* says.
On probing Ann further on her allegations, it turns out that she actually procured an abortion from the facility, whose name we cannot disclose on legal grounds.
“Truth is, I got an unplanned pregnancy after a failed e-pill and I am just not ready for a baby, so a friend referred me here and told me which doctor to go and see and that was it,”. She says.
“It was done professionally, under full anaesthesia, I cannot recall how long it took, but after the drug had worn off…I was discharged and called a cab home, “she added.
While women like Ann who are informed on the dangers of “unsafe” abortions can afford to pay for illegal but “safe evacuation” of unwanted pregnancies, we can’t say the same of most young women especially from the rural areas and poor backgrounds.
Majority of the latter resort to unsafe back street abortions and some of them self-induce by trying concoctions and other unorthodox methods at home, which end up posing life threatening conditions and even death at the very worst cases.
“HOW TO PROCURE ABORTION”
In 2013, “how to procure abortion” was the most searched item in Kenya in the “How To Category” on Google.
The same year, there were 464,690 abortions procured in the country according to a study by Population and Health Research Centre.
The same study said that unsafe abortions accounted for 35% of the maternal deaths in the country in 2013.
BACKSTREET ABORTIONS ON THE RISE KENYA
According to a past report by Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), unsafe abortion is said to be “rampant among adolescents and youth, especially in universities and other technical colleges.”
This is the still the same age bracket of young women that are said to be abusing the emergency pill/ Morning After Pill.
The constitution provides for grounds under which abortion is permitted. These grounds are contained under Article 26 (4), which provides that “abortion is not permitted unless, in the opinion of a trained health professional, there is need for emergency treatment, or the life or health of the mother is in danger, or if permitted by any other written law.”
Kenya is also a signatory to international treaties that seek to end unsafe abortion.
Social workers in Kenya have said that the number of backstreet abortions is likely to rise following the implementation of Trump’s Mexico City Policy famously known as the Global Gag Rule due to the restrictions it places on how organizations use their own non-US government funds, including through limiting conversations that health providers can have with their patients and preventing them from pressing for legal change in their own countries.
US CUTS FUNDING TO PRO-ABORTION NGOs
The Mexico City Policy is a separate rule that goes further, and requires foreign nongovernmental organizations receiving US global health assistance to certify that they do not use their own non-US funds to:
- provide abortion services,
- counsel patients about the option of abortion or refer them for abortion, or
- advocate for the liberalization of abortion laws.
Marie Stoppes Kenya is one of the facilities whose funding has been curtailed by the Mexico City Policy.
The facility is unapologetically pro-choice and a quick look into their website you are greeted by the following Mission;
“Providing access to safe abortion and post-abortion care for women and girls who have decided to end a pregnancy is at the core of our mission,”
CATHOLIC IRELAND MAKES HISTORY WITH ABORTION REFERENDUM
Ireland, a traditionally Roman Catholic country that is regarded as one of Europe’s most socially conservative countries, voted overwhelmingly to repeal its restrictive abortion ban by changing the country’s constitution. 62 per cent supported the change against 32 per cent.