Doctor talking to a young woman

What is post-abortion care?

Remember Mugo Wa Wairimu?

Mugo was operating an unlicensed medical facility and offering unsafe abortion services. Unsuspecting women would visit his clinic seeking abortion services thus risking their lives or getting serious complications, or both. Mugo is not alone, he is just one among hundreds of quack doctors offering unsafe abortions in an environment lacking minimal medical standards.

Why not seek qualified services?

In Kenya, abortion is permitted if the life and health of the mother is at risk or if a medical professional considers the situation an emergency. The result? Women are forced to seek illegal and unsafe abortion services from untrained health providers (or quacks) like Mugo.

In East Africa, 1 in 5 maternal deaths are due to unsafe abortion. These women die from severe complications associated with unsafe abortions. These complications often require emergency medical attention.

Sadly, affected most women seek medical services when it is too late. They either die or are left with life-long complications even after treatment.

These complications and deaths are preventable.

That’s where post-abortion care comes in.

So, what is post-abortion care?

Post-abortion care (PAC) is an emergency treatment done to ensure that the womb is completely empty after an unsafe abortion or miscarriage. This procedure also involves treating complications and infections that may have been left untreated or those poorly treated.

Incomplete and unsafe abortions put women at the risk of severe abdominal pain, fertility issues, heavy bleeding, damage to the uterus and birth canal, infections, etc.

The treatment should consist of birth control counselling and provision of birth control to prevent unwanted or unplanned pregnancies. The goal of this is to prevent repeat abortions.

In addition, emotional counselling is offered. The entire process of having an unsafe abortion or miscarriage to undergoing PAC can affect women’s emotional and physical wellbeing thus the need for counseling.  

PAC ensures that women have access to quality services for the management of complications resulting from abortion and miscarriage. Quality PAC services are an effective way to prevent maternal deaths.

Is PAC permitted in Kenya?

Yes, it is. While abortion is only permitted in certain circumstances, post-abortion care is legal in Kenya. The law states that no one should be denied emergency medical treatment, this includes PAC. Healthcare providers can, thus, legally provide life-saving medical care to women suffering from post-abortion complications. This includes treatment and care for complications from unsafe abortion.

But there’s a problem:

Negative attitudes and shame towards abortion discourage many women from seeking PAC and instead opt for at home care. This means a further delay in qualified care leading to further complication and, in some cases, death.  

Where can I get PAC?

Marie Stopes Kenya is one of the leading providers of PAC. Call them for free on 0800 720005. You can also visit your nearest government hospital or a registered health facility.

Do you have any questions on PAC? Talk to us in the comments sections or visit our Facebook page for further questions.

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LoveMatters Africa

Blush-free facts and stories about love, sex, and relationships