Women in Kenya are dying at an alarming rate due to unsafe backstreet abortions, according to Reuters. In Kenya, which has high rates of poverty, sexual violence and limited access to family planning, approximately 35 percent of maternal deaths are the result of unsafe abortions and an estimated 2,600 women die each year from complications of abortions.
Although abortion is prohibited in Kenya, exception in cases when a woman’s life is in danger, wealthier women often have increased access to abortion care, which is easily made available in private hospitals that almost exclusively service Kenya’s affluent population. “The high and mighty don’t have a problem. In those ivory tower hospitals, these services are available as a routine,” said Dr. Joseph Karanja, an obstetrician-gynecologist who works at Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi.
For years, officials from many African countries, including Kenya, have called for increased access to legal, safe abortion care in an effort to curb maternal mortality among African women. The Kenya Human Rights Commission and the Reproductive Health and Rights Alliance have both supported efforts to “publicize the negative consequences of the criminalization of abortion in Kenya,” calling the absence of safe abortions in the country a violation of a woman’s human rights.