The lifting of the Gag Rule, which had prohibited the US government from funding organizations that talk about abortion or offer related services, has been greeted with tears of joy by Kenyan women, but scoffed and criticized by anti-abortion groups.
This lifting means that the more than US$ one million (79 million shillings) from United States Agency for International Development (USAID) that was available to Kenyan organizations before the Gag rule was initiated will start flowing again.
A recent study at Kenyatta National Hospital has found close to two-thirds of those seeking post-abortion care services at the facility to be married women, demolishing the long held belief that this was a practice popular among unmarried or single women.
About 62 percent of the women who sought post-abortion care services and participated in the study were in a marriage union. They were followed by single women (22 percent), divorced or separated (12 percent) and widowed (4.4 percent). The high numbers of married women seeking post-abortion care services raises many issues.
Thousands of free morning after pills are lying uncollected in many government hospitals as women unaware of their existence spend hundreds of shillings to purchase them in the private chemists.
By end of last year, of the 500,000 doses of morning after pill distributed to government health centres, only 149,000 had been taken-up by women who needed them. Much of this was used by women in Nairobi, Central, and part of Eastern provinces, with Nyanza, Coast and Western recording the lowest uptake.
Close to 30 women who have been suffering in silence with their infertility problems and abusive marriages came out to share their tales after reading a story in the last Saturday Nation of an improved In Vitro Fertilization technique that can assist them have babies.
The women, who cut across social class, called from all corners of the country and as far as Uganda to inquire how they could reach the doctor behind IVF technology. Many of them were desperate to get a baby after searching for one for over five years.
A local doctor has discovered a new way of increasing pregnancy outcome among infertile couples, in a move likely to reduce the cost and the stress associated with failed fertility treatment results.
The new method of fertilizing and transferring embryos to the infertile woman has increased pregnancy success rates by 50 percent, resulting in many women delivering babies than before. It has also ensured embryos are transferred just at the right time when the uterus is ready for implantation, significantly reducing failure rates.
Although many frown at her preferred choice of business and label women like her as immoral, Lucia Mwati* is unapologetic about what she does for a living.
She speaks about it with passion and the emotions in her words are a clear indication that she is not planning to quit her trade any time soon.
While men have been scared stiff to discuss their inabilities to father, instead choosing to lay the blame of infertility on women, an increasing number are now voluntary walking into fertility clinics and requesting to know their status.
Doctors are both excited and astonished with this change of heart among men from across Kenyan communities, who for many years have insisted infertility to be a woman’s issue.
Ordinarily, women are known to beseech their husbands to agree to a fertility test if they are finding it difficult to get a baby.But a couple of months ago, one woman did the opposite. She requested the doctor not to send her husband for semen analysis even after he had agreed to do the test.
When James (not his real name) was asked by the doctor to take a fertility test to determine if he can father or not, he felt as if everything was falling apart.
“My head went into a spin. Many things rushed through it as I tried to absorb the doctor’s request which seemed to question my fertility,” recalls James.