Guest Author - Suzanne Gregory
There has been a lot of debate regarding abortion rights law, in the media lately. Legislators have been in a tug of war over the U.S. Healthcare Reform Bill and what to include or leave out of it. Working to get it passed with some sort of compromise, they feel, Americans can all live with.
I decided to take a look at places in the world, where restriction on abortion is a horrific and familiar reminder of just how good or bad we have it, even though both sides will argue, there’s a long way to go.
One of the most restrictive places in the world on abortion, if not the most, is Kenya.
Kenya is a country in the Eastern region of Africa and is home to over 37 million people. Over 70% of Kenya’s population is under the age of 30. Kenyans are predominately Christian and base their abortion laws on their firm belief that life begins at conception.
Abortion in Kenya is illegal unless a doctor certifies the pregnancy, presents an immediate risk to the life of the mother. There is no provision in the law for victims of rape. Terminating a pregnancy, even one that is the result of rape, is illegal. There are also no provisions for young, pregnant girls in Kenya. These restrictions lead to the countries astonishing statistics and complete disregard for the worth of the lives of its women.
One third of Kenyan women die each year because of illegal abortions. So many women have died from the injuries or infections caused by the abortions, that hospitals in Kenya, can and do, legally treat patients with post abortion complications. Over 21,000 Kenyan women a year have received such care.
Even with the option of post-abortive medical care, 2,600+ women and young girls die each year in Kenya from illegal abortions. That is not including the numbers of females whose death or cause of death was not recorded.
Compounding the crisis is the limited availability of contraceptives to the citizens of Kenya for more than a year now. Despite the fact, that when in supply, contraception is given at any health facility free of charge. Clearly, there would be a decline in Kenya’s maternal death rate and in the number of abortions if the people had better access to pregnancy prevention.
No consideration is given to the mental health of a woman, whose being forced by law to carry a pregnancy to term even in the violent case of rape. Immediately her life is now valued by the unborn offspring of a rapist. It does not matter if she suffers emotional damage, reliving the assault everyday that she has to carry the pregnancy. No thought is given to the life of the victim or their mental and emotional capacity. No mention is made of the unborn that will never be, if she seeks an illegal abortion that makes her infertile.
No one did anything to save the health and life of a 14-year-old Kenyan girl, who died after serious injury & infection from an illegal abortion. She lived at home with her very sick mother and her father had recently died. She was the last of her family who could work to support them. Left with no other options, her only way to make money was prostitution. When she became pregnant, she saw no choice but to seek an illegal abortion. By the time, it was obvious she was ill, family and neighbors never sought medical attention, for fear of being arrested. What about her life? She lived from conception to her tragic death at the age of 14. She died trying to provide for and maintain the lives of her family.
In Kenya, it cost her, her own life.