The abortion issue has become one of the most discussed and contentious issues in the Constitutional debate. Though both sides of the debate- pro and anti abortion-  agree that there is a problem, there seems to be confusion as to a) what the problem is and b) what the solution is.

The pro- abortionist claim that there are too many women dying each day due to ‘unsafe’ abortions and that women need to have a choice about their bodies and health. The Pro-lifers counter that since life begins at conception, there are two lives at stake here both of which need protection and that legalising abortions will not necessarily make them ‘safe’ as it will neither increase the number of registered medical practitioners nor make the conditions any safer.

Both sides have used figures on the mortality rates and the number of abortions performed in Kenya per year to defend their position. What is strange however is the fact that no one seems to know where most of the quoted figures come from. Since most abortions are said to occur on so called ‘back street’ clinics and even at home, it would be interesting to know where these figures are sourced. Below are three different reports from various sources, have a look and have you say…

According to a report by Merlin which is a body that  has been operational in Kenya since 1998 and indicates that it currently works in three Provinces (Rift Valley, North Eastern and Nyanza) supporting the Ministry of health to strengthen its own capacity as well as respond to the needs of the community, the projected number of women with abortion complications admitted to public hospitals in Kenya is 20,893 per annum. An estimated 182 of these women die annually. The annual incidence of incomplete abortion and other abortion-related complications per 1000 women aged 15 to 49 years is projected to be 3.

According to the Federation of Women lawyers -Kenya (FIDA Kenya) in ‘A SHADOW REPORT TO THE 5TH AND 6TH COMBINED REPORT OF THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA, ON THE INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION ON THE ELIMINATION OF ALL FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN (CEDAW)’ and quoting research done by various organizations, 300,000 women die each year due to unsafe abortions. The report does not indicate the number if any of women who die as a result of ‘safe’ abortion’. It is also not clear whether the 300,000 figure is a Kenyan number or a global number, some people have however quoted it as a Kenyan figure.

According to an article published in PubMed Central by Fred Mbugua, a study of abortion in Kenya conducted jointly by the Ministry of Health, the Kenya Medical Association, and two non-governmental organisations, and which covered only 60 public hospitals, it was estimated that up to 800 unsafe abortions are performed every day in Kenya, leading to an average of 2600 deaths each year.

Will anyone with the real numbers please stand up!

  1. Simon Kiptoo says:

    What if your mum had aborted you?

  2. […] Abortion in Kenya- The facts March 2010 18 comments 5 […]

  3. jans says:

    The Catholic position in a nutshell: If the mother’s life is in danger, let her die rather than perform an abortion.

  4. jans says:

    Guilty as charged. I was disposing of the most common anti-abortion argument — divine command or knowledge. Life begins at conception is a statement of faith, not fact. Life doesn’t begin, it is merely passed on.

  5. aknownemass says:

    Jans, aren’t you the one who brought the word of God into this debate?

  6. jans says:

    “Of all the arguments that fundamentalists resort to in their defense of the Bible, none is more ridiculous than their claim that the Bible is necessary for people to know how to live moral lives…

    We have used human intelligence to cure diseases, split the atom and invent a technology that has us reaching for the stars, yet Christian fundamentalists would have us believe that we are too stupid to discover that lying, stealing and killing are harmful enough to the general welfare to be considered morally wrong.”
    We have thought our way to credible social norms and would do the same for abortion if the alleged word of God were left out of it.

  7. jans says:

    I’m arguing that the Bible is not a credible guide on morality (as proven by its position on slavery, genocide etc). That scripture throws out arbitrary rules as morals without reasoning them out.

    That reason can lead to better moral choices (as it has on genocide, slavery etc). That science shows certain types of abortion to be a completely different issue (the prevention of a person from developing rather than killing of a person). That, therefore, it is not immoral, under certain circumstances, to have an abortion.

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