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Loophole as High Court rules abortion still illegal in Kenya

The High Court ruled on Wednesday that abortion remains illegal in Kenya but quashed the directive by the Health ministry that saw national standard guidelines for the procedure withdrawn.

The decision was made by judges Aggrey Muchelule, John Mativo, George Odunga, Lydia Achode and Mumbi Ngugi.

The judges also ordered the government to pay Sh3 million as compensation to a mother from Kisii County whose raped child died as a result of a botched abortion.

The mother, the Federation of Women Lawyers (Fida) and the Centre for Reproductive Health sued the ministry and the Attorney-General following the decision to withdraw the guidelines for an abortion.

The teenager was also a petitioner in the case. The 15-year-old sought treatment at Kisii Level Five Hospital after the botched abortion when complications arose.

She lost a lot of blood and the hospital could not offer her dialysis so she was transferred to Tenwek Hospital In Bomet County. She died at the facility’s intensive care unit.


The ministry withdrew the disputed guidelines six years ago after stakeholders failed to agree on them.

Health workers were therefore directed to stop attending trainings on safe abortion.

The petitioners opposed that move, saying women were left with no option but to seek abortion services from quacks, but the government insisted on the illegality of the process.

The petitioners faulted the ministry for barring health workers from accessing medical information through trainings, developing skills for life-saving abortion care and providing patients with accurate information.

They want abortion training for healthcare workers revived and the guidelines reinstated, their argument being that the rights of women and health workers were violated.


The petitioners and several non-governmental organisations further argue that in order to protect women’s health and lives, it is essential for the ministry to clarify when health workers can provide safe, legal abortion services.

They want guidelines on courses of action to help them manage complications that arise from botched abortions.

The Kenya Christian Professionals Forum, the Catholic Doctors Association and the Attorney-General were opposed to the suit.

Other parties in the case include Article 19, the National Gender and Equality Commission and Physicians for Human Rights.

By Daily Nation

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