According to the World Health Organization Unsafe abortion is one of the four main causes of maternal mortality and morbidity in the world. An estimated 22 million abortions continue to be performed unsafely each year worldwide, resulting in the death of an estimated 47, 000 women and disabilities for an additional 5 million women annually.

Most of these unsafe abortion occur in developing countries where abortion is legally highly restricted. According to a study carried out by African Population and Health Research Centre (APHRC) in 2012, an estimated 464,690 abortions are procured in Kenya every year of which majority are unsafe resulting in health complications and even death.

The main victims are adolescent girls and young women aged 10 – 24 years. The estimates comprise those reported within the healthcare system thus the number could be much higher. An estimated 2,600 women die from unsafe abortions annually

In Kenya safe abortion is legal under certain circumstances. Article 26 Subsection 4 of the Constitution of Kenya allows safe abortion where in the opinion of a trained health care professional:

  1. there is need for emergency treatment of the mother, or
  2. the life of the mother is in danger, or
  3. the physical, emotional or psychological health of the mother is in danger or
  4. if permitted by any other written law.

There is widespread misunderstanding of the constitution and the law, which results in women choosing not to seek safe abortion services when it is their right.

This misunderstanding of the law also makes trained providers reluctant to provide safe abortions services even when it is legal, because they are afraid they will be prosecuted.

As a result of this misunderstanding of the law, and fear and stigma, most women end up going to untrained providers or use unsafe means to terminate a pregnancy. Seven women and girls die every day due to unsafe abortion.

Marie Stopes Kenya is an organization that helps women and girls if they have an unplanned pregnancy crisis. Women can receive comprehensive pregnancy counseling at any of our clinics, or through our toll free contact center (0800 72 000 5).  Marie Stopes will provide safe, high quality and affordable abortion according to the constitution and the law in Kenya.

Unintended pregnancy is the main reason as to why young girls and women opt to seek abortion services.

But what is an unsafe abortion? How does it happen?

Here are the 5 most important things you need to know and yes, number 3 will shock you.

You know it is an Unsafe Abortion if…

  1. The person providing the abortion service is neither a qualified doctor, nurse, midwife nor clinical officer.
  2. The person providing the abortion service has NOT been trained and certified as a provider of safe abortions.
  3. The abortion service is provided in an environment that does not meet minimal medical standards, including cleanliness, sterile equipment, knowledge in complication management and proper referral systems. Common places these unsafe abortions are conducted include homes (bedrooms); lodgings, or even private offices.
  4. Proper counselling and proper medical examination have not been offered with alternative options.
  5. Use of unconventional and unsafe methods including sticks, needles, detergents and herbs.

Safe abortion is a human right and every woman has a right to access safe abortion services. Article 43 of the Kenyan constitution states that every person has the right to the highest attainable standard of health, which includes the right to health care services, including reproductive health care. Safe abortion is part of reproductive health.

If you need to know more, please contact Marie Stopes on 0800 72 000 5