Women and Unsafe Abortion in Kenya

Chimaraoke O. Izugbara, African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC)
Caroline Egesa, African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC)
Rispah Okelo, African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC)

Public health discourses on safe abortion assume the term to be unambiguous. However, qualitative data elicited from Kenyan women treated for complications of unsafe abortion contrasted with official or public health criteria for abortion safety. For the women, safe abortion connotes pregnancy termination procedures and services that conceal their abortions, shield them from the law, were cheap, and decided on through dependable social networks. Women also challenged the notion that poor quality abortion procedures and providers are inherently dangerous, asserting these as key to women’s preservation of a good self, management of stigma, and protection of their reputation, respect, social relationships, and livelihoods. Greater public health attention to the social dimensions of abortion safety is needed.

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Presented in Session 157: New Perspectives on Women's Reproductive Choices