Data from public and private hospitals in Kenya shows that 64.4 per cent of the patients who seek post-abortion care are married women.
The research conducted by the African Population and Health Research Centre (APHRC) indicates over 465,000 induced abortions occurred in Kenya in 2012, which was higher compared to 2002.
According to the report, there were 48 cases in every 1,000 women in 2012 while 2002 had 45 cases in every 1,000 women.
Some 86 per cent of the said number of patients had sought Post-Abortion Care (PAC).
The data also indicated that of those that sought PAC, 64 per cent were married, 90 per cent were literate and 59 per cent were from the rural areas.
High rates of abortions were said to have been recorded in Nyanza, Western and Rift Valley regions.
Psychologist Allan Kimani of Nairobi Counseling Services attributes this high rate of abortions in marriage to several factors. “Sometimes, the woman is not ready to be a mother or to raise a child.
At other times, a woman might not want to put too much pressure on the husband, or the pregnancy could just be ill-timed. The financial state of the family may also force a woman to abort,” said Mr Kimani.
Abortions in marriages
Sam Owoko, a researcher, added that infidelity and wife inheritance were also to blame for the alarming rates of abortions in marriages.
The study, which is based on data collected from public and private hospitals and other health facilities in Kenya, showed that 48 per cent of all PAC clients were less than 25 years of age while 17 per cent of them were aged between 10-19 years.
Sometimes parents are behind these abortions in teenagers and pre-teens like a case just last week, in which a 16-year-old girl was reported to be fighting for her life at Mama Lucy Hospital, in Nairobi after undergoing a forced abortion. The teenager was forced to abort a six-month pregnancy by her mother who did not want ‘embarrassment’ in the family.
It is alleged that the mother took her to a clinic in Kayole where she was given drugs to swallow at different intervals.
The teenager, who was against the procedure, alerted a relative who came to her rescue.
Unfortunately, the baby died and the girl had to be taken to the hospital for an emergency surgery as a result of the damage the procedure caused her.
The mother and the doctor who carried out the procedure are scheduled to appear before court.
Unsafe abortion can cause death or ill health in women and to mitigate on these risks, the Government of Kenya released safe abortion guidelines in 2012.
The guidelines required that all health practitioners attend training on how to conduct safe abortions.
The guidelines were however suspended in 2013 following an outcry from faith-based organisations.
Their argument was that the training opened an opportunity for quacks in backstreet clinics to terminate abortions on patient’s request, giving rise to illegal abortions.
Following this, some medical doctors and NGOs led by Fida Kenya and the Centre for Reproductive Right have moved to court to compel the government to reinstate the guidelines.
They contend that the Ministry of Health erred by barring health workers from accessing medical information through training to develop skills in life-saving abortion care. The guidelines are yet to be reinstated