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News > World

Kenya Lifts Abortion Ban in a Blow to Conservative Group

  • A woman carrying a baby arrives at the clinic of the NGO Marie Stopes in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso February 16, 2018

    A woman carrying a baby arrives at the clinic of the NGO Marie Stopes in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso February 16, 2018 | Photo: Reuters file.

Published 23 December 2018

The conservative group CitizenGo Africa was able to rally the Kenyan government to ban the abortion services conducted by Marie Stopes, a decision recently reversed.

The government of Kenya lifted a ban which prevented women from accessing abortion services provided by the international charity Marie Stopes.

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On Thursday, the health ministry of Kenya said it conducted an audit of the charity’s clinics in the country which, after being finalized, allowed for the continuation of their work under “regular supervision.”

Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki reconsidered the move to ban the charity’s work and said it could continue its work so long as it respected the Constitution and complied with the Medical Practitioner and Dentists Boards guidelines.

The Board asked Marie Stopes to issue a commitment letter, “that they will not carry out any abortion services on demand.”

“By mobilizing against the ban on abortion on social media, women made it clear that they will not sit idly by as the government attempts to roll back their rights and access to health care,” Erin Williams from the International Women’s Coalition stated on the government’s decision to lift the ban.

The Kenyan government imposed the ban on Marie Stopes based on accusations from Anne Kioko of CitizenGo Africa, a conservative international organization which advocates for “life, family, and liberty,” showing no consideration of the dangers faced by Kenyan women who lack access to safe conditions to carry out the procedure.

“Marie Stopes International is a chain of abortion clinics whose illegal activities have offended so many people not only in Malawi but in other countries across Africa. In Kenya, they were advertising their trade of killing unborn babies at a fee but were stopped before they could further their trade. In Niger, the minister of health has shut down their clinics completely,” according to CitizenGo’s website.

The conservative organization alleged Marie Stopes had been spreading publicity calling for abortions through Kenyan radio stations.

Kioko was initially successful. In November, Marie Stopes was ordered to discontinue abortion services while remaining open to conduct other reproductive health services.

Kenyan law prohibits abortion unless a woman’s life is in peril.

This limited legal scope is present in the constitutions of many countries around the world and has been the cause for thousands of women to rally for “legal, safe, and free abortion,” as in the case of Argentina’s and Ecuador’s Vivas Nos Queremos Movement, which advocates for the decriminalization of abortion, and for the empowerment of women to decide over their own bodies, according to the social movement.

Statistics show that every day some 320 women are hospitalized and seven of them are killed by precariously conducted abortions without proper and safe health conditions, in Kenya. These “backstreet abortions” is exactly what Marie Stopes is trying to prevent by providing safe and accessible health conditions for women in its 23 centers across the country, according to the charity.

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