Medical row: NGOs linked to use of banned abortion drug

Dr Stephen Kimotho, a witness for Catholic Doctors Association. [George Njunge, Standard]
Women in rural areas are being given a banned medicine for abortion, the court has heard.

Dr Wahome Ngari, a witness for Kenya Christian Professionals Forum, told the High Court that some non-governmental organisations supplied Medabon to women in rural areas.

The doctor claimed that despite the Ministry of Health banning Medabon in 2014, it had been labelled as a prescription medicine.

This emerged during the hearing of a case lodged by JMM, a 15-year-old girl, on whether the country should reinstate safe abortion guidelines.

 Case lodged

Dr Ngari was testifying before High Court judges Aggrey Muchelule, Mumbi Ngugi, Lydiah Achode, John Mativo and George Odunga.

JMM sued alongside Federation of Women Lawyers and the Centre for Reproductive Rights.

The girl claimed she would have procured safe abortion from a trained personnel if the guidelines were in place.

During the hearing there was contention as to whether faith-based organisations pushed the Health ministry to withdraw the guidelines.

Dr Stephen Kimotho, a witness for Kenya Catholic Doctors Association, told the High Court that World Health Organisation, UNFPA, Marie Stopes Kenya, Family Health Options International and Family Health Care Kenya influenced the resolution on the safe abortion guidelines.

According to the doctor, the church is a pro-life hence it was opposed to the guidelines being used in hospitals.

"JMM is a very unfortunate case. She could not have had an abortion,” Dr Kimotho testified.

And Dr Ngari had testified that the girl needed to be induced to labour instead of extracting the unborn baby.

He said JMM had her last periods in May 2014 while unsafe abortion was done in December the same year when the baby was almost fully developed.

It also emerged that her kidneys were infected after loss of blood and that an item which was used in unsafe abortion perforated her intestines.

Kimotho claimed what happened to the 15-year-old girl was killing a baby who would have survived if placed in a nursery.

“JMM did not have an abortion. She had infanticide. The correct thing is that a life starts at conception, on fertilisation,” he claimed.

The court heard that although an unborn child is raised inside a woman’s womb, it is never a part of the mother.

“A woman is made to provide a home for the unborn child,” the court heard.

Ectopic pregnancy

The doctor was questioned on what should happen on two fatal conditions in pregnancy – ectopic and molar pregnancies.

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilised egg attaches itself in a place other than inside the uterus. In molar pregnancy, the unborn degenerates to cancer-like cells.

He said although doctors have to suck out the baby and its contents to save the life of the mother, that cannot be defined as an abortion.

The court also heard that the Catholic Church declined to attend meetings that came up with safe abortion guidelines.

Dr Kimotho said 43 per cent of hospitals in the country are faith-based.

“We cannot allow outsiders, especially NGOs, to decide policies and guidelines that would affect the lives of Kenyans,” he testified.

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