Penal code slowing down constitutional abortion care services
SEE ALSO :How coding is catching on among girlsWhen these sexually-active, unmarried girls were interviewed, four of ten said they wished to avoid becoming pregnant, but were not using any method of contraception. Among the poor and uneducated married women, less than one in five use modern contraceptives. Even though expulsion from school for pregnancy is no longer legally permitted, many adolescents believe that if a girl becomes pregnant, abortion is the only way to avoid expulsion from school. Unintended pregnancy has two main outcomes – unplanned births and unsafe abortion. In Kenya, more than 300,000 abortions occur every year. The World Health Organisation estimates that 13,000 women in Eastern Africa die from unsafe abortion each year. One Kenyan study found that as many as 60 per cent of all gynaecologic emergency hospital admissions are due to abortion complications.
SEE ALSO :MCA in jeans kicked out of assemblyIn its Health Sector Strategic Plan, the ministry of Health classifies post-abortion care as “essential”, but while nurses and midwives are legally allowed to provide that care, in many instances only doctors are adequately trained, which means very few women can access it, since most facilities do not have doctors. Apart from synchronising the language of the Penal Code with the constitutional provisions, experts say the Government must strive to reduce the unmet need for contraception and eliminate barriers to obtaining family planning services for all women. “Comprehensive programmes need to be established in schools to offer vital information that adolescents need to make informed decisions and protect their health and future. Both providers and the general public should be made aware that abortion is an available option to protect the health of a woman,” says a policy expert at IPAS, a non-profit organisation that promotes women’s health and reproductive rights.
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