News / Africa

Unsafe Abortions Continue in Kenya Despite Reforms

Dr. Aron Sikuku, right, explains family planning options to Beatrice Ravonga in Nairobi, Kenya. (Jan. 29, 2009 file)
Dr. Aron Sikuku, right, explains family planning options to Beatrice Ravonga in Nairobi, Kenya. (Jan. 29, 2009 file)
Gabe Joselow
A new report from Kenya’s ministry of health reveals 465,000 women had abortions last year, the vast majority in unsafe conditions -- despite more liberal abortion laws. 

According to this week's report, Kenya’s national abortion rate, at 48 abortions for every 1,000 women, is higher than almost every other country in Africa.
Most of the procedures have taken place in unsafe conditions, either outside of medical facilities or without the assistance of trained professionals.

As a result, some 120,000 women sought medical treatment for complications from abortions.

Dr. Elizabeth Kimani, with the African Population and Health Research Center, says despite the safety concerns, there is a resistance in Kenya to addressing the problem.

“I think there’s still a lot of stigma about reproductive health and about abortion."

Kenya relaxed its abortion laws in the 2010 constitution by giving health professionals more leeway to determine when abortion is permitted. Before then, three doctors had to sign off on the procedure when it was necessary to save the life of the mother.

Because of continued resistance to abortion, the country has not brought health care facilities up to speed, said Kimani.

“Since it was quite restricted before 2010, there are no good structures which have yet been established even after the promulgation, in terms of training health care professionals, in terms of safe abortion care," she said.

A report released last year by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights found unsafe abortions caused up to 50 percent of maternal deaths in Kenya. It said some of the unsafe methods women were using to terminate pregnancies included taking traditional herbs or high doses of anti-malarial medication.

Others inserted objects, like knitting needles, into their bodies. To get to the root of the problem, Kenya should devote more resources into family planning, Kimani said.

“Because people have unintended pregnancies first, and then they seek abortions. So we actually have to deal with this issue first.”

Dr. Kimani says the research found that 43 percent of pregnancies in Kenya are unintended. The report concludes that increasing access to contraceptives and other reproductive health services is key to preventing unsafe abortions.

You May Like

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

China-India Border Standoff Continues as Leaders Hold Summit

New Delhi accuses hundreds of Chinese soldiers of illegally entering Indian territory in disputed region of Ladakh More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid