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Home / Health & Science

UN lobby backs ‘emergency’ abortions

HEALTH & SCIENCEBy ROSELYNE OBALA | Thu,Jun 06 2013 00:00:00 EAT
By ROSELYNE OBALA | Thu,Jun 06 2013 00:00:00 EAT

By Roselyne Obala

Nairobi, Kenya: The emotive matter of abortion that split the country during the 2010 referendum on the Draft Constitution is back in the limelight.

At the time, International Human Rights Watch claimed the right to abortion in emergency cases was not available to victims despite assurances by authorities.

Now the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) gas acknowledged that despite the Government’s position that in practice physicians can allow abortion where a woman has been subjected to incest or rape, that is not the case.

Change laws

“The committee recommends that the State party (Kenya) should evaluate the effects of its restrictive legislation on abortion on women’s health, with a view to regulating this area with sufficient clarity,” the committee noted.

It added: “The committee recommends that the Government amend its legislation in order to grant women who have been subjected to rape or incest the right to abortion, independent of any medical professional’s discretion.”

The committee, in its concluding observation on Kenya after the Second Period Review on violation of human rights noted that women are left in an unjustified discretionary situation, with grave repercussions on their health because the law is not clear enough.

Attorney General Githu Muigai explained to the committee chaired by Claudio Grossman of Chile that Kenyan law allows a medical practitioner can perform an abortion in emergencies where the life of a mother is in danger.

But the Constitution does not specify who a medical practitioner is, resulting in confusion when interpreting the law, and putting lives of women at risk. CAT based its observations on reports submitted by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) and others civil society groups countrywide.

KNCHR noted that lack of a database on torture cases is a challenge in understanding the prevalence of this vice and addressing it.

However, police reports show that since January this year, rape cases stand at 383 while incest is at 86.

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