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Kenya needs law on safe abortion, rights group says -paper

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Thu, 8 Dec 2011 10:57 GMT
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NAIROBI (TrustLaw) – Kenya should introduce a law clarifying when women can procure a safe abortion, a rights group told parliament, the Daily Nation reported on Thursday.

"Parliament should enable a law to determine the circumstances in which a pregnancy can be terminated," the paper quoted a report by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) as saying.

Many Kenyans do not understand the provisions of the country’s 2010 constitution, which allows abortion in order to safeguard a woman’s life, or physical or mental health, or if there is need for emergency treatment.

KNCHR called for clarity on the definition of “emergency treatment”.

Enforcement of Kenya’s abortion law is ambiguous. Rich women easily access safe abortion in private facilities. But the poor and uneducated risk their lives using backstreet quacks as government hospitals are reluctant to offer the service.

In Kenya, 43 per cent of pregnancies are unwanted. At least 2,600 women die in public hospitals each year after having botched abortions. Many more die at home without seeking medical care.

The human rights group also wants the government to provide information on centres offering legal abortion and contraceptives.

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