Abortion is illegal in Kenya

By Mercy Imali

Abortion remains illegal in Kenya. The only exceptions are:

  • Unless the life and health of an expectant mother is in danger
  • In the event of a rape it can be carried out by a health expert.

A five judge bench made the declaration on Wednesday in a case in which Federation of Women Lawyer’s (FIDA) Kenya wanted the Ministry of Health compelled to advise health workers to provide safe and legal abortion.

Guidelines on how to procure safe abortion have been reinstated after the bench nullified a February 2014 memo by the Ministry of Health (MOH) withdrawing them after stakeholders purportedly failed to agree on contentious issues.

The move by the ministry the judges said violated the rights to professional information, consumer protection and scientific progress.

The petitioners had argued that the guidelines steer doctors on how to deal with complicated pregnancies in order to reduce mortality rate.

Petitioners faulted the move arguing it bars health workers from accessing medical information through trainings, develop skills in life saving, abortion care and to provide patients with accurate information.

Justices Mumbi Ngugi, George Odunga, Aggrey Muchelule, John Mativo and Lydia Achode declined to hold that an unborn child is not a person and therefore has no rights.

MOH was opposed to the case insisting abortion is illegal and trainings on the same should not proceed.