How legalizing abortion can improve lives of women’s and girls
Let us reflect: It’s the 9th of August, 2022. You and other Kenyans are up at the crack of dawn ready elections. But things are a little different this year: Instead of voting for a president, governor, MPs and other posts, you are voting on whether to legalize abortion? Would you cast your vote? And if so, which way would you swing?
You might be wondering, ‘Why should I care about legalizing abortion care?’ Well, let me walk you through it.
Currently, Kenyan law outlaws abortion and only permits it in the opinion of a trained health professional, when there is need for emergency treatment, or the life or health of the mother is in danger, or if permitted by any other written law.
But here’s the kicker: In 2012, there were 464, 490 induced abortions in Kenya, and most of these were unsafe. That’s like filling up five football stadiums with people, all of whom are at risk!
And it gets worse. Some women and girls may have chosen not to go to a hospital, while others with severe complications may have died without reaching a facility.
This is one of the reasons why legalizing abortion is important. It would provide young girls and women with access to safe abortion services, significantly reducing the number of unsafe abortions, which are a major cause of preventable deaths among pregnant women.
Now, let’s talk about teenage pregnancies. It is no secret that Kenya has a high rate of teenage pregnancies. Almost 2 out of 10 girls between the ages of 15 and 19 are reported to be pregnant or have had a child already. Poverty and a lack of education are linked to higher rates of teen pregnancies.
Legalizing abortion could provide a safe option for these teenagers, reducing the health risks associated with unsafe abortions and allowing them to continue their education. This could have long-term benefits for their economic prospects and contribute to reducing poverty levels.
Besides, legalizing abortion would have social benefits as it would mean being able to find an affordable provider, conceal the abortion, and be protected from law enforcement. This would improve women’s emotional and economic well-being, social status, reputation, and relationships.
Lastly, decriminalizing abortion would not only reduce the country’s healthcare costs and allocation of resources to treat complications resulting from unsafe abortions, but it would also allow more women to enter the workforce and raise the country’s GDP per capita.
So, if you’ve been nodding along while reading this article, contemplating the prospect of legalizing abortion, remember that every vote counts, just like every woman’s life. But don’t just sit there waiting for a ballot box for legalizing abortion care to make a difference. You can start promoting safe abortion care in Kenya today.
How, you ask? Start by educating yourself and others about the importance of safe abortion care. Share articles like this one, engage in discussions, and dispel myths and misconceptions. Advocate for policy changes, support organizations that provide safe abortion services, and stand up for women’s rights.
Remember, change won’t always start in the voting box. Sometimes, it starts with you.