Kenya has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world—with 3,600 maternal deaths per year. The government of Kenya, following the democratic vote for a change of the Constitution, declared its commitment to reducing this number, but without addressing unsafe abortion there can be little progress.
The Kenya Constitution allows for abortion when in the opinion of a trained health professional a woman’s life or health is at risk, in cases of emergency, if the pregnancy is a result of rape, defilement or incest and when allowed by any other law.The full implementation of this provision is necessary to reduce maternal death and injury due to unsafe abortion.
‘Wanjiku’ is a 15-year-old Kenyan girl who became pregnant at age 14 after an older man from her village coerced her into having sex with him. Feeling anguished and fearing rejection from her family, she decided to end the pregnancy.
Because safe abortion services weren’t available to her, she sought care from an unqualified “quack” that botched the procedure. Afterwards, she started to vomit, bleed heavily, and her body began to swell—signs that her kidneys were failing.
Today – June 30, 2015 – marks the beginning of the pursuit for justice. Constitutional Petition no. 266 of 2015, is a petition that has been filed today at the High Court in the matter of an alleged contravention of articles in the constitution including Article 26.
The petition is asking the president to:
- Make possible the urgent medical care necessary to treat Wanjiku’s health complications.
- Direct the Ministry of Health to reinstate the Standards & Guidelines for reducing Maternal Mortality and Morbidity, resume training of and for comprehensive abortion care providers, and make safe, legal abortion services accessible to all Kenyan women, regardless of geographic location or socioeconomic status.