The Center for Reproductive Rights-CRC, a global legal advocacy organization that seeks to advance reproductive rights, has released the latest statistics on unsafe abortions in the country.
CRC estimates that approximately 465,000 illegal abortions are performed in Kenya each year by untrained people. The agency further says that one out of three girls under the age of 18 experience sexual violence and over 40 percent of pregnancies are unintentional.
The agency further indicates that over a third of maternal deaths in the country are as a result of unsafe abortions.
According to health practitioners and health rights advocates, the Government and religious organizations are to blame for being the greatest impediment to advocacy and information regarding Reproductive Health Rights in the country.
Jeremiah Maina, the National Secretary at the Clinical Nursing Society of Kenya, said the government should review the standards and guidelines that it revoked and which were meant to reduce morbidity and mortality from unsafe abortions.
This comes as a five-judge bench prepares to hear a suit filed by CRC in 2015 against the Attorney General, the Ministry of Health and the Director of Medical Services on behalf of The Federation of Women Lawyers-FIDA after the ministry of health revoked guidelines on safe abortions.
The ministry also wrote a memo prohibiting safe abortion training for healthcare professionals.
“The Memo prohibiting safe abortion training for health care professionals violates a number of human rights for both women and health workers, including the rights to health, information, and the enjoyment of the benefits of scientific progress, among others,” CRC submitted.
CRC wants the High Court to protect women’s health and lives by restoring safe abortion training. It also wants the Ministry of Health to introduce standards and guidelines that appropriately clarify when a legal abortion can be provided based on the grounds set forth in the Constitution.
It is also calling for both the Ministry of Health and the Director of Medical Services to adopt effective administrative measures so women and health professional are aware of the sexual violence guidelines and that survivors of sexual violence can access safe and legal abortion.
The case will be heard this week.