A Global Legal Advocacy Organization, the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) has filed a case in the Kenyan High Court against the Attorney General, the Ministry of Health and the Director of Medical Services. The case was filed on behalf of The Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Kenya, two community human rights mobilizers, an adolescent rape survivor (who is suffering from kidney failure and other health complications that arose from procuring an unsafe abortion) and on behalf of all Kenyan women of a reproductive age.
The group is lobbying for "access to safe and legal abortion" and argue that the Kenyan government is allowing thousands of women in Kenya to needlessly die or suffer severe complications every year due to unsafe backstreet abortions and should therefore be held accountable. They feel that these deaths and injuries can easily be avoided by legalizing abortion. The CRR is now seeking a declaration from the High Court to protect women's health and lives by restoring safe abortion.
The EACLJ has enjoined itself as an interested party in the suit because it holds the following position:
The Government of Kenya is NOT blocking "safe and legal abortion services". That terminology is not applicable under the Kenyan Constitution and the laws of the land. What happened to the adolescent rape survivor should not happen to any girl or woman of any age. However, suggesting that abortion will somehow "fix" or "treat" this grievous offence is a dangerous and fallacious argument. Rape is a crime against the victim and the society. It must be dealt with within the criminal justice system. Kenyans have and continue to advocate for the better treatment of victims by the Police. The respect and dignity of the victim must be preserved. Kenyans also want the Police to have better methods of collecting forensic evidence.
Backstreet abortion clinics mushroom because of misinformation being spread that abortion is okay, and that it is a 'right'. It is neither okay nor lawful to kill an unborn child.
In a very significant number of cases, it has been established that rape is perpetrated by persons known to the victim. This could be a family member, someone in an educational institution, or someone in the work environment. It should be pointed out that a breakdown in the natural family setup has led to serious societal degradation. For instance, the male child is no longer taking up his role of protecting the members of the family. This is the situation that really needs to be addressed.
Rape victims have suffered enough. They have been gravely injured physically and psychologically. What they need is understanding, counselling and strong support systems. They need to be encouraged and given support to either take care of the child, or give it up for adoption.
It is not right to exacerbate the situation by turning the victims into murderers. Making abortion easy and readily available does not take away the problem. It makes it worse. Many times, when someone goes through an abortion, there is a high chance they will do it again. What is not immediately made apparent is the psychological effect abortion has on women. According to a new study published by Britain's Royal College of Psychiatrists. (link will be added), women who have abortions are 81% more likely to experience subsequent mental health problems. The greatest increases were seen in relation to suicidal behaviours and substance abuse.
The Kenya Constitution guarantees the right to life, while explicitly stating that life begins at conception. Provision is allowed in the legal framework for termination of a pregnancy if, in the opinion of a qualified medical practitioner, the life of either the mother or the unborn child is at risk. The State's obligation in all this should be to ensure that no one is deprived of their life without proper legal cause. We fight for both the mother AND the child.