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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 July, 2003, 19:10 GMT 20:10 UK
Kenya divided over abortion
By Caroline Karobia
BBC, Nairobi

Pregnant woman
The MPs say men should be made to take on more responsibility
Kenya's women members of parliament say the time has come to legalise abortion.

They say that if a bill is not passed they will lobby for the revival of a law that forces men to pay for the upkeep of the children they father out of wedlock.

They argue that if the law is not amended many women will continue to lose their lives.

About 700 women die each week in Kenya as a result of complications arising from illegal abortions, while 60% of complications during pregnancy are a result of either previous abortions or miscarriages, according to medical reports.

Many of the illegal abortions are carried out in back street clinics.

Is it better to bring up a child who then becomes a street child or to bring up seven children that one is unable to take care of?
Adeline Mwau, MP

Responsibility

One of the women MPs who wants to see abortion legalised is Adeline Mwau, who says there is a strong link between abortion and poverty.

"Is it better to bring up a child who then becomes a street child, or to bring up seven children that one is unable to take care of?" she asks.

Ms Mwau says the major reason why women resort to abortion is because there is no law in Kenya that forces a man to pay for the upkeep of a child that he fathers out of wedlock.

The responsibility is shouldered by women.

Ancient law

Abortion is illegal in Kenya and anyone found guilty is liable to a seven-year jail term without an option of a fine.
What is the point of a mother having a baby when she is going to be bed ridden for the rest of her life?
Dr Mohammed Abdallah
The law only allows an abortion to be carried out if a woman's life is in danger.

Dr Mohammed Abdallah says the law is ancient and should be reviewed.

"What is the point of a mother having a baby when she is going to be bed ridden for the rest of her life?" he asks.

The debate on legalising abortion started early this year, when the Health Minister, Charity Ngilu, called for safer motherhood.

Her remarks were seen as a call to legalise abortion.

The issue has also generated heated debate, with the church and anti-abortion lobby groups arguing that abortion is equivalent to murder.


SEE ALSO:
Dismay over Bush abortion move
25 Jan 01  |  Americas
Bush blocks abortion funding
23 Jan 01  |  Americas
Analysis: Bush's abortion signal
24 Jan 01  |  Americas


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