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How Abortion Hypocrisy Kills Women

It is well documented that outlawing abortion does not end the practice. A better approach would recognize that demand for abortion services is often the culmination of a series of systemic failures that begin during childhood.

KISUMU, KENYA – Opposition to abortion is so intense that even where women have the legal right to terminate their pregnancy, it can be extremely difficult to access the services needed to exercise that right. But, worse than that, opponents of abortion tend to ignore the failures that lead women to the point where they seek one in the first place.

From a moral standpoint, there is a strong case to be made for respecting a woman’s personal freedom and bodily autonomy, rather than forcing her to put her health or wellbeing at risk by carrying an unwanted or unsafe pregnancy to term. Yet, given how rife with misinformation and muddied by misplaced arguments the issue is, policy debates often go nowhere unless they frame abortion first and foremost as a health matter.

Consider the case of Kenya. Despite having one of Africa’s most progressive abortion laws – a woman has the right to terminate a pregnancy if “there is need for emergency treatment, or the life or health of the mother is in danger, or if permitted by any other written law” – enduring opposition to abortion has undermined implementation. And this is to say nothing of the women who would not qualify for an abortion under these rules.

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