Each year in Kenya, more than 2,500 women and girls die from unsafe abortions—despite the fact that the government legalized abortion under specific circumstances a decade ago in its Constitution. Currently, unsafe abortions are a leading cause of maternal mortality, especially among low-income women.
Today, on the 10th anniversary of the Kenyan Constitution, the Center has published a new report, A Decade of Existence, Revealing Progress, Reversal, and Betrayal of a National Compromise, which details how the government’s failure to uphold its constitutional obligations has harmed its citizens.
The report offers recommendations for the Ministry of Health, the National Assembly, and the Chief Justice to better protect the health and rights of Kenyan women. The recommendations include increased public education about reproductive rights, clearer legislation around reproductive health care, and enhanced legal protection for access to safe abortion.
Currently, Article 26(4) of the Constitution provides for abortion care in situations such as when the health or life of the mother is at risk. Yet pervasive stigma, misinformation, and a lack of enforceable laws have made abortion care inaccessible for many in Kenya.
Earlier this week, the Center and dozens of its international partners led a social media campaign and webinar to raise awareness about this issue and urge the Kenyan government to protect access to the abortion care that was guaranteed in the Constitution a decade ago.
By calling upon the government to swiftly and effectively implement Article 26(4) of the Constitution, the report by the Center and partners aim to reduce stigma and misperceptions surrounding abortion, increase access to care, and better protect the health of Kenyan people.
“The persisting stigma and false narratives about abortion in the public domain and criminal justice system has put the lives of more Kenyan women and girls on the line,” said Evelyne Opondo, Senior Regional Director for Africa, Center for Reproductive Rights. “Abortion stigma prevents women and girls from accessing health, psychosocial support, and freedom from cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment.”