Court rules abortion illegal in Kenya, reinstates guidelines on safe abortion

Court rules abortion illegal in Kenya, reinstates guidelines on safe abortion

The High Court has reinstated guidelines in reducing deaths from unsafe abortions even as it ruled that abortion remains illegal in Kenya.

This follows a petition filed by the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) in 2015 which was triggered by the withdrawal of the said guidelines by the Director of Medical Services.

FIDA termed the withdrawal as illegal and a violation of women and girls rights in attaining highest level of healthcare.

The case also sought to seek justice for a minor who died after failing to receive post-care abortion that was curtailed with the withdrawal of the said guidelines.

In a 2-hour judgement read by a five-judge bench, the court ordered the government to pay Ksh.3 million to a mother from Kisii County whose child died after procuring an abortion in 2014  following a sexual assault.

Judges Aggrey Muchelule, John Mativo, George Odunga, Lydia Achode and Mumbi Ngugi ruled the girl’s death was as a result of poor post-abortion care which was limited by the withdrawal of the 2012 guidelines.

The standard guidelines for reducing mortality and morbidity from unsafe abortions was developed in 2012 to reduce maternal mortality in the country.

According to research conducted by the centre for reproductive rights, seven women die daily from unsafe abortions, with 360 women being those who seek backstreet abortions.

The guidelines therefore were addressing issues that would help prevent abortion in the first place, methods of procuring safe abortions and post abortion care, all under the premise of the provision of the law that indicates that abortion is necessary only in the opinion of a trained health professional or when the life or health of a mother is in danger.

Despite the win for FIDA and other like-minded persons, a section of Kenyans are still not happy with the court’s decision, with others seeking to appeal certain sections of the judgement..