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High Court rules abortion remains illegal in Kenya

Anti-abortion activists outside Milimani Law Courts on Wednesday. Photo/CFM.

NAIROBI, Kenya Jun 13 – Abortion remains illegal in Kenya unless the life and health of an expectant mother is in danger, the High Court has ruled.

A bench of five judges made the declaration Wednesday in a case in which Federation of Women Lawyer’s (FIDA) Kenya wanted Ministry of Health compelled to advise health workers to provide safe and legal abortion.

Justices Mumbi Ngugi, George Odunga, Aggrey Muchelule, John Mativo and Lydia Achode have declined to hold that an unborn child is not a person and therefore has no rights.

The bench however, ruled that pregnancies resulting from rape can be terminated with the help of an expert.

Guidelines on how to procure safe abortion have been reinstated after the bench nullified a February 2014 memo by MOH withdrawing them after stakeholders purportedly failed to agree on contentious issues.

The petitioners had argued that the guidelines steer doctors on how to deal with complicated pregnancies in order to reduce mortality rate.

On its part, the Ministry of Health was opposed to the case insisting abortion is illegal and trainings on the same could not proceed.

The move by the ministry the judges said violated the rights to professional information, consumer protection and scientific progress.

Petitioners faulted the move arguing it bars health workers from accessing medical information through trainings, develop skills in life saving, abortion care and to provide patients with accurate information.

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