ABORTION: Causes and Trends December 2022

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Why do women carry out abortion and why is it not legal in Kenya

The topic of abortion has continued to raise many questions such as : what is abortion, why do women carry out abortion and why is it not legal in Kenya?

Abortion happens when a woman ends a pregnancy consciously (induced or deliberate termination of a pregnancy through chemical or surgical means) Schacht & Knox (2008). In 2013 an article by African Population and Health Research Centre report that about 500,000 women carried out an abortion in Kenya. This happened even when the Kenyan constitution is opposed to abortion. In 2012, 464,000 induced abortions were procured in Kenya by women between 15-49 years. About 120,000 women received care for post-complications of the abortion in health facilities. About 48% of all pregnancies in Kenya were unintended (APHRC, 2012).

Why do Women Procure Abortions?

Studies show that women carry out abortions for various reasons including,

Conception through rape-Rape makes a woman feel very dirty, shameful and the anger of raising a child who is a product of rape and mostly unknown father to the woman. Abortion is perceived to erase the bad memories. Rape of a married woman might attract intimidation by the partner, also divorce and separation leading to mental health challenges.

 Parental coercion  where parents feel that stigma will follow their families and their unmarried daughter’s who get pregnant out of wedlock, or they are still in school and might drop out or delay in completion. The stigma may worsen if a parent is a leader in the local community and wish to maintain their status quo.

A voice from Jenny (not her real name) “…when my mother discovered I was pregnant, she got very mad at me…she organized an abortion without my knowledge…I found myself in a hospital and the doctor procured the abortion…I was emotionally affected and cried bitterly. It has taken many years to recover from the trauma…:

Conceiving too soon after giving birth. They might feel the pregnancy have happened too soon to cope with while still breastfeeding and the feelings of shame that sometimes go with it.

Responsibility avoidance is another cause for terminating pregnancy before time. They feel they are not ready to raise children. Some young women may get pregnant only to realise they did not love the partner to get babies with them as Edna said “… I never intended to get married…..It was not a serious relationship…he doesn’t measure up to be the baby daddy..”.

A case of Rejection or abandonment by the partner as

 Noel said “…I had joined a certain organization for practice…I was impregnated by a staff member who had promised marriage but after he finished his engagement with the company he abandoned me, declined to pick my phones completely…I aborted the pregnancy worrying how I would bring up a fatherless child. This action has haunted my life for many years…I feel worthless, angry and bitter of this experience… I no longer trust any man..”

A case of negligence by spouse

Julie felt neglected by her spouse when he got very engaged with his peers,. He started drinking alcohol and spent a lot of family time away from home. “.. I feel getting another baby will be difficult for me …furthermore, he has not been talking to me and does not care about the financial upkeep anymore…

Career engagement might make a woman  feel like the baby will interfere with career progression and future prospects.

Ignorance about use of contraceptives and lack of information about their safety, and not wanting to become single mothers.

Relationship challenges

Availability of backstreet doctors who aid in procuring abortions, conception through incest, in cases of separation and divorce.  

Abortion has many negative physical, psychological and social consequences: Possibility of incomplete abortion may lead to post abortion complications because the procedure may not be done according to medical standards expected and must be redone in a hospital setting. This can become expensive due to other complications that may result out of the process. The woman may suffer from excessive bleeding, uterine infection, perforation of the uterus or the adjacent organs as well as the adverse effects of medication or aesthetic and may lead to death Schacht & Knox (2008).

Reasons for No Abortion

Traditional view– Pregnant women were given special care and attention because they carried life which is viewed as sacred.

Christian View-All humans have a right to live. Human life is sacred and a gift from God. Jeremiah 1:5 says that “before I formed you in your mothers womb, I knew you: Abortion is violating the will of God the creator of all human beings.

Abortion is seen as a form of killing. No human being has a right to kill another one as one of the ten commandments instructs that “Thou shall not kill”. The unborn fetus cannot protect itself.

Psychological Consequences of Abortion

A study done in Tehran in (2011) identifies the effects of abortion which include depression, worrying, abnormal eating behaviour, inability to conceive again, decreased self-esteem, night mares, guilt and regrets. Abortion may cause subsequent mental health problems like suicidal tendencies, and substance use disorders Schacht & Knox (2008).

 Incidences where abortion may be allowed

When the life of the mother is in danger, when the foetus is deformed and may be unfit to lead a normal life. This might occur when a diagnosis from a professional doctor reveals a genetic defects with a potential risk of giving birth to children with serious mentaldisorders Butcher J.N & Carson R.C. (1992).

Abortion or no abortion? Every woman has a choice. The question is ,what if your mother aborted you?

i). Always consider all the alternatives available as well as the short & long-term

consequences of your course of action.

ii). Look for information about the course of action you intend to take.

Awareness about the social-psychological, medical, financial and legal aspects of abortion is key.

iii). Talk with trusted family members, friends, and professional counsellors. Additionally, women who have gone through an abortion, and others who have raised children can offer sound advice.

1v). Reflect on your own personal and moral values in life.

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> Butcher J.N. $ Carson R.C. (1992). Abnormal Psychology and Modern life. 9th Edition; Harper Collins Pub. Inc. Ney York: USA

> D. & Schacht, C.. (2008). Choices in Relationships: An introduction To Marriage and The Family. Thomson Higher Education Belmont, California: USA

> Life Application Study Bible (1996).

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