As detailed in a piece this month from Mother Jones, Kenya has recently sentenced a licensed, registered nurse from Nairobi—Jackson Tali—to death after a teenaged girl suffering from a botched abortion sought his medical assistance and died in his care.
Tali’s high-stakes case has attracted attention worldwide. Currently, his death sentence is being challenged at Kenya’s Court of Appeal. The Center for Reproductive Rights is providing legal technical support for Tali’s lawyer as part of a committee during the appeals process.
Under the Kenyan Constitution, abortion is permitted if in the opinion of a trained health professional, there is need for emergency treatment, or the life or the health of the woman is in danger, or if permitted by any other written law.
Mother Jones reports that the pregnant woman, Christine Atieno, came to Tali in severe pain, bleeding from her uterus—possibly after attempting to procure an abortion elsewhere. Tali took her to his clinic to complete the abortion, but she began to bleed out and died in his car en route to the hospital.
It is unclear under Kenyan law if Atieno’s condition when she sought care from Tali constituted a medical emergency.
The horrors of this case are many—not the least of which is the fact that while the harshness of Tali’s death sentence is unusual, the young pregnant woman’s experience is not.
With limited access to contraception, more than four in ten pregnancies in Kenya are unintentional. And, due to the lack of access to legal abortion care in Kenya, unsafe abortions contribute to 2,400 maternal deaths each year.