Abortion: Can Survivors, Lawyers, Medics & Community Speak one Voice?
We had a candid conversation with the community on the impact of Unsafe Abortions in conjunction with the Center for Reproductive Rights. Listening to the personal experiences of survivors who almost lost their lives, was a wake-up call. The community addressed leaders and policymakers to understand their role in prioritizing laws that promote reproductive, maternal, newborn child and adolescent health; Esther Passaris, Nairobi’s women representative, shared and listened to the community sharing their call for sustainable interventions.
Addressing the impact of Unsafe Abortions using Poetry and Music:
Fatuma’s Voice was honored to add the creative, artistic voice through poetry and music via Peetstar Poet (AKA Peter Gitau), who emphasized the need for policy to be clearer and that the government intervenes to stop this injustice.
According to the Constitution of Kenya (2010), Article 26(4) that talks about the Right to Life; Abortion is not permitted unless, in the opinion of a trained health professional, there is need for emergency treatment or the life or health of the mother is in danger, or if permitted by any other written law.
Criminalization of Abortion in Kenya
Articles 158-160 of the Kenyan Penal Code criminalizes abortion. Article 158, “Attempts to procure abortion”, states that: “Any person who, with intent to procure miscarriage of a woman, whether she is or is not with child, unlawfully administers to her or causes her to take any poison or other noxious things, or uses any force of any kind, or uses any other means whatever, is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for fourteen years.”
Article 159 in similar language applies these conditions to “any woman with child” and makes her liable to seven years’ imprisonment, while anyone who unlawfully supplies “drugs or instruments to procure an abortion” is liable to three years’ imprisonment.
In 2010, the legal position was changed through the passing of the new Constitution through a referendum, which permitted abortion in certain circumstances. Article 26(4), of the new Constitution, reads: “Abortion is not permitted unless, in the opinion of a trained health professional, there is a need for emergency treatment or the life or health of the mother is in danger, or if permitted by any other written law.”
The People’s Voice and possibilities of policy change:
As we ask if Survivors, Lawyers, Medics and the Community members can Speak one Voice, keep in mind the voices and cries of real people on the ground. People who seek to know how the law can make their life better and safer. And how the constitution can be made clearer, to protect and support the common mwanaichi.
Src: The law, trials, and imprisonment for abortion in Kenya