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Abortion in Kenya

Mbugua, B. An interview with Mrs. Nyoike. Step, 7(6) [reprinted from Step, 3(3)]. Nairobi, Kenya.

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(Download Interview with Mrs. Nyoike as a PDF)

Mrs. Nyoike, matron in charge at Kenyatta Hospital, describes a scene taking place almost daily, "Young girls are brought bleeding to death. Once these girls get to the hospital speedy action is taken. These girls could die at any time. They are in need of blood. As doctors conduct a thorough check they discover the girl has aborted a three-month-old fetus. They have to remove pieces that are still stuck to the uterus of the girl."

One girl of 14 years was brought in complaining of severe stomach pain. According to Nyoike, "Her father took her to Kenyatta...The girl was taken by a nurse to a room where the treatment was to be done. The father waited outside. After a few hours the nurse opened the door and came to the father. ‘Congratulations, you are a grandfather now,’ the nurse informed him. ‘What do you mean?’ the surprised father asked. Upon being told, he collapsed to the floor. The daughter, meanwhile, was struggling to get out of the treatment room. ‘Please, you should never try to stand on your feet after a delivery,’ the nurse told the girl. The girl couldn’t believe it until she was shown the 3 pound preemie."

From her perspective as matron in charge, Mrs. Nyoike has vivid evidence that abortion is on the increase as she notes, "In a ward where such cases come, we normally have 25 beds but now we have to squeeze up to 80 beds in. The ward is always full. The medical staff working there simply have no time to breathe."


Mrs. Nyoike suggests that society is doing nothing about this problem. Societal institutions admit that traditional forms of counseling are breaking down, but in her opinion, that is as far as it goes:

In the older society, grandparents spent a lot of time counseling both girls and boys. The old folks were sincere and frank and were never involved emotionally when counseling. They talked about sex, about responsibility involved in love affairs, and the value of self respect and good conduct. The grandparents were supported in their counseling by aunts and uncles. Life in the cities has brought a new situation. Members of a family live far apart from each other.

One modern father warned his daughter about going to night clubs, but the girl refused to listen: " ‘You think my mother and I don’t know that you take a girl of my age to night clubs?’ the girl interrupted."

Mrs. Nyoike suggests that our youth today lack good role models. She also fears our failure to tackle the problem of sex:

We should not live in the past. Our older generation used to deal effectively with the problems that affected their society. We must be effective in our own society. The failure to teach and counsel the youth can be seen at every level—in the schools, churches, and homes. Church, for example, takes much time telling Bible stories but no practical application is drawn.


Finally, Mrs. Nyoike points out that what is being taught now often suggests that girls alone need sex and family planning education. She views this as a false hypothesis. Instead, Mrs. Nyoike offers, "I think it is healthier to teach both sexes about life. Education about life is for all. Boys need to learn about responsibility as lovers, as leaders of a future home, husbands and fathers."


Current society cannot continue to ignore the changing sexual behaviors of youth. We must clearly assess where we are as a society and as adults, and determine our responsibility as parents, teachers, churches and youth leaders.

Dean Borgman cCYS