NAIROBI, Kenya (RNS) Amid increasing calls for legalization of abortion in Africa, botched cases among young women are on the rise, according to recent reports.

Akech Aimba, an abortion survivor who heads Pearls and Treasures Trust, a Kenyan organization that provide post -abortion care to women affected by unsafe abortion.She says abortion kills the fetus, but also kills women psychologically. and emotionally. RNS photo by Fredrick Nzwili

Akech Aimba, an abortion survivor who heads Pearls and Treasures Trust, a Kenyan organization that provide post -abortion care to women affected by unsafe abortion.She says abortion kills the fetus, but also kills women psychologically. and emotionally. RNS photo by Fredrick Nzwili


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Governments are responding by distributing contraceptives, but the Roman Catholic Church, some Muslim groups and anti-abortion groups are waging their own campaigns against contraception, warning it will further escalate the problem.

More than 6 million unsafe abortions take place each year in Africa, resulting in 29,000 maternal deaths, according to the World Health Organization. Another 1. 7 million women are hospitalized annually for complications from unsafe abortions.

Abortion is restricted in most African countries, except in South Africa, Cape Verde, Tunisia and Zambia. Abortion is strictly illegal in 14 countries.

The increase in the number of abortions is due largely to the rising number of women of reproductive age, according to the U.S. based Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.

According to the institute, only 3 percent of African abortions were performed under safe conditions.

In most of Africa, women seeking abortions have little recourse. Some go to traditional healers, many of whom employ unsafe techniques, or to nurses, who generally provide safer services. Some women try to induce abortion themselves, while others purchase abortion-inducing drugs from pharmacists.

A report last month by the African Population and Health Research Center showed the number of illegal abortions in Kenya increased to more than 460,000 in 2012, a 48 percent jump from the estimated 300,000 abortions in previous years.

According to the report, 64 percent of married Kenyan women had an abortion at least once in their lifetime. More than 70 percent of those women said they did not use contraception.

Since its release, churches, mosques and anti-abortion groups have strongly criticized the report, describing its findings as inflated. Kenyan Roman Catholic bishops called the figures “disturbing,” and said people should guard against questionable statistics that may scare them to accepting legalization of abortion. Abortion is outlawed in Kenya, except when the life of the woman is in danger.

“We reaffirm that life is sacred from conception until natural death,” said Bishop Philip Anyolo, vice chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a statement.  “We insist it is deceptive to treat abortion as a panacea to health, happiness and prosperity of a woman.”

In Uganda, Imam Idi Kasozi, the secretary general of the Uganda Muslim Youth Assembly, warned against any government attempt to decriminalize abortion.

“We also need to look at our religions and cultures to bring out the good values that encourage sexual purity and abstinence,” Kasozi said.

Dr. Jean Kagia, an OB-GYN in Nairobi who heads the Protecting Life Movement Trust, said abortion and unplanned pregnancies are a social problem.

“Many women fear after using the contraceptives they will not be able to have babies in future,” she said. People here value babies and those who don’t have their own are stigmatized. I think this is an African mind-set that must be well understood.”

Women are having abortions because it has been readily made available to them, even where it’s illegal, said Akech Aimba, a 33-year-old Kenyan woman who heads the Pearls and Treasures Trust, an anti-abortion organization that cares for women who have had an abortion.

Aimba had two abortions herself before being counseled by a Christian crisis pregnancy.

“I cried a lot,” she said. “I started feeling ashamed of myself. There was deep-seated grief and emptiness I could not explain.”

She is now convinced contraceptives are not the answer, either.

Distributing condoms freely, without giving information encourages risky sexual behavior leading to more abortions, she said.

“We are not solving the problem,” she added. “We are not giving them life skills, but with the condoms people are pushed deeper into sexual addiction.”

YS/LEM END NZWILI

9 Comments

    • No. These are illegal abortions being performed in nonsterile conditions and by untrained physicians. The chance of dying from an abortion in the US by a trained physician legally is much lower..

  1. What is needed in Africa as in other parts of the world is to embrace sexuality more positively and stop the myth that only sinful people have sex and unwanted pregnancy. Africans are religious and they are the same ones aborting unsafely. Let us provide all options for pregnancy preventions – skills on pregnancy prevention, contraception, etc. If we demonize any of these, e.g. demonizing contraception more unwanted pregnancies will happen. If we stigmatize abortion more women will hide and go to the backstreet and some will die. None of us wants a woman to die so let us show love and respect to all women, even those asking for abortion. I believe God does not discriminate.

    • @Jo: Wrong, wrong, wrong! Sexuality within the boundaries of a monogamous, faithful marriage IS embraced positively! How many more millions of cases of venereal disease and unplanned pregnancies ending in abortion can humanity endure because of people like you who “celebrate sexuality” outside of marriage????

      60% of all abortions are done because of FAILED CONTRACEPTION!! Not only does hormonal contraception kill newly-conceived human beings by the millions every day worldwide, but the World Health Association, 7 years ago, officially classified hormonal contraceptives as “Group 1 Carcinogen”, DEFINITELY CAUSING CANCER OF THE BREAST, LIVER AND CERVIX!!! Lethal to Women!!!

      Contraception AND abortion KILL WOMEN AND THEIR CHILDREN!

      You talk about “love and respect” for women??? The greatest love is to TELL THE TRUTH! The greatest respect is to honor the body God gave you by not mutilating it with chemical poisons and the violent, destructive act of forcibly aborting your children! Love desires the BEST for the beloved, not to tell the beloved to murder their offspring and destroy their bodies.

  2. I really don’t understand this one. aren’t we contradicting ourselves in this article? The writer speaks about the rise of abortion in Africa but continues to engage others who are strongly leaning on one side and criticizing a report. What are w really saying here? That we need to counsel women after they have undergone abortions? is it only emotional counselling they need or much more than that? As we strongly disregard this report, can someone comment on the report by the National population council on the alarming rise of teenage pregnancies in Kenya? Was it fictitious too? Abortion and unplanned pregnancies at that are a reality and we need to address them without disregarding or criticizing national studies. How about what we are seeing in media today? Listen to the Maina Kageni breakfast show for example…are you going to say that the callers are fictitious too?
    Please!Please! Please! Can we have a better discourse that engages on solution building NOT criticism on reports. What is the church’s role in addressing sexuality in this very real world that is marred with media that preaches sex half the time? Can we please find practical solutions on how to address the issues and stop talking about fictitious reporting. As far as I am concerned, this is fictitious reporting from where I stand. I truly wish the writer would have been a little bit more objective in finding out what the real issues are.
    As I strongly agree with Dr. Kagia on the social impetus that drives women’s reproductive health decisions, I would like to pose that it is these same social impetus including gender inequality, stigmatization, and poverty that drives women to Ward 26 of Kenyatta National Hospital that is now overburdened with women who have suffered from unsafe abortion.

  3. You talk about abortion i think its time for us to search and see what can be done on the air, a girls does it and later misses a child,she says its a curse, the pills are sold in all the chemists, do this people see the danger, why my dear sisters ,why should we we kill that innocent fetus which cannot talk or go on the roads singing haki yetu they dont have any voice lets join together and say no to abortion let those who incite be coureguosly say no to abortion let the doctors say no .and you young people to give birth is not a curse rather its a blessing let there be homes for those who are not ready to bring up the little saints.

  1. […] Unsafe abortions on the rise across AfricaReligion News Service, on Wed, 04 Sep 2013 12:10:14 -0700“We also need to look at our religions and cultures to bring out the good values that encourage sexual purity and abstinence,” Kasozi said. Dr. Jean Kagia, an OB-GYN in Nairobi who heads the Protecting Life Movement Trust, said abortion and unplanned … […]

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