Lobby in defence of Marie Stopes

A lobby group has filed a petition at the High Court to overturn the decision by the Director of Medical Services and the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board (KMPDB) to ban Marie Stopes Kenya from offering reproductive health services.

Through lawyers Martin Onyango and Sofia Rajab, the group claimed that after the ban many women and girls who visited Marie Stopes in urgent need of reproductive health services were turned away thereby exposing them to lifelong risk of unsafe abortions.

The lawyers argued that it is illogical that a country like Kenya where unsafe abortion is the third leading cause of maternal mortality and adolescent girls are the most affected would ban operation of centres that offer safe reproductive health services to save their lives.

“Women and girls suffer physical harm and sometimes death when they are treated inadequately and unsafely. Denial of legally available health services like safe abortion and post abortion care can cause lasting physical and emotional suffering and amounts to abuse and mistreatment,” said the lobby.

The dispute started on September 11 when the Kenya Film and Classification Board (KFCB) banned all advertisements on radio by Marie Stopes over allegations that they were promoting abortion.

On November 10, KMPDB issued an order directing Marie Stopes to immediately stop offering abortion services in all 23 branches in the country.

This was followed by a directive by the Director of Medical Services Jackson Kioko on November banning Marie Stopes from providing post-abortion care in all facilities.

But the lobby argued that the decisions were illegal, unconstitutional and went against the Ministry of Health’s regulations that provide that reproductive health services and post-abortion care are integral part of maternity services.

“The ban will adversely affect women and girls who will have nowhere to run to,” said Onyango. They lobby group wants the Ministry of Health compelled to disclose all facilities and information relating to safe abortions to save women and young girls from backstreet abortions that expose their lives to danger.  

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Abortion banAbortionMarie StopesKenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists BoardKMPDBDirector of Medical Services