Posted August 26, 2020 9:28 am by

NAIROBI, Kenya Aug 26 – Narc-Kenya Party Leader Martha Karua says little has been done to ensure women and girls access safe and legal abortion in Kenya, 10 years after the country adopted the new progressive Constitution.

Speaking during a virtual meeting organised by the Centre for Reproductive Health to track the implementation of Article 26(4) of the Constitution, Karua said abortion stigma, misinformation and lack of the implementation of court decisions are key contributors to the status quo.

“Unsafe abortion remains one of the leading causes of maternal mortality and mobility in the country, we, therefore, cannot talk of beyond zero maternal mortality unless we focus on implementing Article 26(4),” she told participants during the online meeting held on Tuesday.

Article 26(4) provides that: abortion is permitted if, in the opinion of a trained health professional, there is a need for emergency treatment or the life or health of the mother is in danger, or if permitted by any other written law.

Karua, who served as the Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister between 2003 to 2009, further faulted the government of dragging its feet in implementing a substantive law on the matter which led to more women procuring unsafe abortions.

“We have witnessed increased censorship including threats to crack down on health facilities providing reproductive health services. So when we fail to implement Article 26(4) of the Constitution we are actually condemning poor women and girls to quacks and to death by unsafe abortion,” the Narc-Kenya party leader noted.

Centre for Reproductive Health Senior Regional Director for Africa, Evelyn Opondo, urged Parliament and the Ministry of Health to fast-track the enactment of legislation that will provide clear standards and guidelines on abortion as a sign of commitment to reduce unsafe abortion.

“If we do nothing, we’ll lose about 27,000 women and girls in the next 10 years. These are preventable deaths. We are refusing to take action. Our hope relies on active citizenship. We must hold our governments accountable. We must demand our rights,” Opondo stated.

She cited a recent study that revealed that the National Police Service and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions are using provisions in the Penal Code to harass women and providers.

Opondo said the Penal Code is inapplicable to deal with matters of women’s reproductive health as she argued that women and girls should be empowered with information to make informed decisions on their life and health.

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