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The issue on Abortion long-term impacts. Different organizations are expressing their opinions on the subject. Some countries have even enacted legislation, but one thing remains clear: KEEP YOUR LAWS OFF OUR BODIES.

A woman has the right to make her own decisions regarding her body. A number of human rights support this right, which guarantees freedom of decision-making in private matters. Protections include:

  • The right to physical integrity, 
  • The freedom to choose the number and spacing of one’s children freely and responsibly, 
  • The right to privacy.

The consequences of an unintended pregnancy can be devastating to a woman’s physical and emotional health. Decisions affecting one’s body, particularly one’s reproductive capacity, are clearly within the realm of personal choice. Only a pregnant woman may decide whether or not she is ready to have a child.

This article explores the whole issue and abortion long-term impacts on women health.

THE ISSUE OF ILLEGAL ABORTION?

Illegal or unsafe abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by people lacking the necessary skills or in an environment lacking minimal medical standards or both.

Factors leading to illegal abortion 

  • Lack of knowledge about safe abortion services
  • Poor socioeconomic situation.
  • Cultural and religious beliefs
  • The stigma of unplanned pregnancy
  • A desire to bear children only after marriage.
  • Attempts to avoid parental disappointment.
  • Desire to pursue education.

Prof Jaldesa Guyo, is a regional coordinator for the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics Figo initiative for preventing unsafe abortion. He led to a significant step forward when the Kenya High Court ruled that some rape survivors can terminate their pregnancies.

Esther Passaris, a Nairobi women’s representative is the leader of She Decides. This is an international movement advocating for female empowerment in reproductive healthcare. The organization was formed in 2017 to challenge Donald Trump’s reinstatement of the “global gag rule”. This is a rule under which international NGOs cannot receive funding from the US government if they provide access to or information about abortions.

She advised and fought the government to go further and legalize abortion on demand. She said that “women and girls have the right to make decisions about their bodies”. There was a backlash from many conservative groups here in Kenya. This is because 85% of the population identify themselves as Christians.

More than 40% of pregnancies in Kenya are not planned, according to a study from 2012. This is the latest year for which data is available, by the health ministry and the African Population and Health Research Centre (APHRC).

Kenya’s constitution allows abortion ONLY when a woman’s life is in danger and emergency treatment is necessary. Nearly half a million abortions were carried out, in the same year. Most of these abortions were unsafe and resulted in various complications such as organ failures and shock at the study’s conclusion. The death rate of unsafe abortions is high compared to other African countries. 

Women’s rights to safe abortion

The right to life of women

Abortion is a woman’s human right to a safe and legal abortion. Nearly 70 million women have unwanted pregnancies each year. 

The consequences of these pregnancies will vary greatly depending on a woman’s;

  • Health, 
  • Family ties
  • Financial means, and 
  • Access to medical care. 

These and other considerations will play a role in her decision to carry a pregnancy to term or seek an abortion. Due to the complexity of this decision, the pregnant woman is the only one who can make it. Governments should recognize a woman’s human right to make reproductive life decisions. A woman who chooses to have an abortion should have access to the facilities and services she needs to safely end her pregnancy.

Multiple human rights instruments defend the right to life. It is commonly assumed that in countries where abortion is illegal, women seek abortions secretly. It is usually under medically hazardous and thereby life-threatening circumstances. This can also result to serious abortion long-term impacts. Every year, over 20 million women have unsafe abortions, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). 

When a woman is forced to have a life-threatening unsafe abortion their right to life is jeopardized. Laws that force women to undertake dangerous abortion procedures infringe on their right to life.

In 2000, the World Court interpreted Article 6.1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The slogan “right to life” has been associated with anti-abortion movements. Nonetheless, It has never been interpreted in an international setting to indicate abortion restrictions. 

Under international law, women have the right to “the best possible quality of health.”

Unsafe Abortion long-term impacts for women

Unsafe abortions can have serious health consequences for women. Women may suffer long-term disability as a result of unsafe abortions. These include uterine perforation, pelvic pain, or pelvic inflammatory disease. Safe abortion services safeguard women’s health.

Other side effects include: cramping, injury to the bowel, bladder, or cervix, heavy bleeding, or more serious complications. Blood loss, damage to the uterus, and infection are the most common side effects.

Every year, almost 70,000 women die as a result of these unsafe abortions. Also, Unsafe abortions are connected to a high rate of stillbirths.

The right to health does not guarantee perfect health for all women. However, It has been interpreted to require governments to provide health care and work to create conditions that promote good health. 

This right to health can be viewed in the context of abortion. Under international law, women have the right to “the maximum possible standard of living”. This right to health might be understood in the context of abortion as requiring governments to take appropriate measures to guarantee that women are not exposed to the risks of unsafe abortion. Removing legal limits on abortion and ensuring access to high-quality abortion providers are examples of such initiatives.

That governments should “consider the health consequences of unsafe abortion as a major public health concern.” 

Women and girls have the right to make decisions about their bodies

WHICH AFRICAN COUNTRIES HAVE LEGALISED ABORTION?

Africa has five countries with relatively supportive abortion laws. Zambia allows abortion for economic reasons. The countries of Cape Verde, Mozambique, South Africa, and Tunisia allow abortion without consideration to the reason. However, it is only up to a certain stage of pregnancy.

Women (and men) who have had abortions share their own experiences testimonies. 

A 24-year-old girl writes how she became pregnant after having unprotected sex with her boyfriend on her birthday. A month later she finds out. Being a third-year campus student, she feared going to her parents especially after her boyfriend told her to abort and became very supportive. He provided money for the procedure. The procedure was a horrible experience that was very painful. She got depressed after.

With such a story she feared seeking counselling. This led to her withdrawing from friends, church, and even brought resentment towards the boyfriend. Her only recourse in her mind was to get another baby to replace the one she just killed but the boyfriend wouldn’t give in. She would graduate with honors but that did not stop her from feeling like a looser. Two years after her abortion she met a new guy she was really attracted to. She ended up sleeping with him and got pregnant after a one-night stand.

He demanded an abortion but since she wanted a child she refused. She later learnt that he was a married man. She separated with her boyfriend since she did not want him to raise a kid that wasn’t his. The lady lives now with her daughter as a single mom. Things have not been easy, but her faith in God has really kept her going.

Another girl writes how it’s been years since her abortion yet the wound in her heart has yet to heal. She never met that small baby, but she will eternally adore him or her. Her genuine regret is not keeping the baby. She feels that she has no idea how she will ever forgive herself for what she did to her unborn child.

All other testimonies express the same deep regret that pushes the girls to hate their own lives.

Conclusion

“You cannot govern backstreet abortion. You don’t know who is providing it and how it is being done .A lot of things could be prevented.,”  Prof. Jaldesa Guyo,

Esther Passaris, wants the government to go further, and legalise abortion on demand. 

“Women and girls have the right to make decisions about their bodies. Whether we legalize it or not, it’s happening.” Esther Passaris.

Abortion in Kenya is regulated by Article 26 (IV) of the Constitution of Kenya. It states that: Abortion is not permitted unless, in the opinion of a trained health professional, there is a need for emergency treatment, or the life or health of the mother is in danger, or if permitted by any other written law.

Governments should make abortion services legal, safe, and available to all women. This is to respect a woman’s freedom to plan her family. In a number of circumstances, abortion may be a woman’s only option for exercising her right to choose. If a woman who falls pregnant through non-consensual intercourse is refused her right to an abortion, she will be forced to bear a child.

Access to safe abortion services may be the only way for women who live in areas where family planning and education are unavailable to regulate their family size. This is also a way to curb those abortion long-term impacts that women who chose it go through.

Related topic: It’s All Gender-Based Violence: Lets Review Kenya’s Generation Equality Roadmap to Ending GBV and FGM by 2026

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