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Government lifts Marie Stopes abortion ban




Protestors along Moi Avenue on April 17, 2018 during a peaceful march to raise awareness on reproductive health rights for men and women. Photo | File | NMG

The Ministry of Health has now given international charity Marie Stopes Kenya the green light to perform safe abortions in the country.

While lifting the ban on its care services, Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki said that they can now only perform abortions within the confines of the law.

The Constitution allows access to abortion, but permits it only in cases when a woman’s life is at risk.

“Marie Stopes Kenya and all health practitioners and health institutions in Kenya must adhere to the provisions of article 26(4) Constitution of Kenya, 2010 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,” she said.

Ms Kariuki said that the Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board would continue to carry out regular supervision of the operations of Marie Stopes and would also submit corresponding reports to the Ministry.

Marie Stopes — which works in 37 countries providing free contraception, advice on family planning, sexual health, safe abortion and post-abortion care — was said to be advocating abortion through advertisements running on radio stations.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board had banned its abortion services following complaints from the public that claimed the organisation was running pro-choice media campaigns.

The adverts specifically sought to provide women with a solution when faced with crisis pregnancies.

On the issue of advertising, the committee said Marie Stopes should ensure that any future promotions conform with advertising rules of the regulator.

Over 2,600 women die annually from unsafe abortions, translating to an average of seven deaths a day.

Kenya has the highest number of unsafe abortion deaths compared to other East African countries, according to a study done by the African Population and Health Research Centre and the Health ministry.