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Nairobi doctor reveals why more women are terminating pregnancies

 DR. John Nyamu, a consultant gynaecologist and Executive Director at Reproductive Health Services

NAIROBI: Abortions will always be procured so long as expectant mothers are not comfortable with the pregnancies, a gynaecologist has said.

John Nyamu, who is based in Nairobi, says women are more willing to abort especially when pregnancies are traumatic because of rape or extramarital affairs.

"Some women abort when partners responsible are of a different race while others simply terminate pregnancies due to their demanding occupations, says Dr Nyamu, who once served a one-year jail term for allegedly carrying out illegal abortions.

Nyamu wants the Ministry of Health to fast track implementation of abortion standards and guidelines launched in October 2012 by the then Medical Services Director Francis Kimani, saying the problem of unsafe abortions is serious.

"Women with abortion complications should be treated with compassion and given free services. They need to be given information on the legality of abortion issues and where they can access services. Health providers should also be trained," urged the doctor.

The gynaecologist was clear that he performs abortions only on medical grounds.

The doctor says many of the women who visit his Reproductive Health Services clinic are counselled and given alternative options, but those who insist on aborting are referred elsewhere to seek help.

"There is one we counselled and advised to give birth, then give out the new born for adoption," says Nyamu.

He says many of his clients include those with infertility challenges, victims of unsafe abortions, women suffering from harmful traditional practices like female genital mutilation, patients with sexually transmitted infections and cervical cancer.

The doctor explains there two types of abortions – miscarriage and induced. He says miscarriages result from hormonal imbalances, the composition of genes and infections.

He says induced abortion could either be legal or illegal.

In Kenya, abortion is legal under certain circumstances. However, the Government is yet to come up with clear guidelines on how termination of pregnancies should be carried out.

As a result, public hospitals have not been given the green light to conduct abortions.

"Legally, abortion can be done by trained professionals like doctors, nurses, clinical officers or midwives but on condition that the life of the patient is at risk," says Nyamu. He adds that the intention of aborting legally is to save the life of the mother.

According to Nyamu, illegal abortions are carried out by practitioners not well trained in the reproductive health of women.

In 2012, the abortion standards and guidelines were officially launched. But the guidelines were soon shelved following an uproar from the church. The guidelines have been undergoing revision with the involvement of all stakeholders.

In 2014, Nyamu and two nurses were arrested after 15 foetuses were found dumped along Mombasa Road. They were charged with murdering two foetuses. But he claims documents stolen from his clinic were planted at the scene. Nyamu plans to sue the Government for what he termed as unlawful confinement.

"I was wrongfully charged with murder. I am suing the Attorney General for abuse of my rights. The pathologist indicated that the foetuses were already dead in the wombs. It was malicious imprisonment. It was well planned as my documents were stolen and placed at the scene," says Nyamu.

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