Kenya bans Marie Stopes from performing, advertising abortions

Kenya flag Credit Jiri Flogel Shutterstock CNA Kenya flag. | Jiri Flogel/Shutterstock.

Kenyan authorities have banned the international abortion group Marie Stopes from offering any form of abortions in the country. This comes after a government agency investigated complaints that the group was promoting abortion through its advertisements.

Marie Stopes is a UK-based organization that claims to be the "world's largest provider of contraception and safe abortion services" and operates in 37 countries, according to its website.

Abortion is not permitted under the Constitution of Kenya, unless "there is need for emergency treatment, or the life or health of the mother is in danger," or if otherwise permitted by law. The exceptions were added to the Constitution in 2010.  

The Medical Practitioners Board of Kenya sent a letter to Marie Stopes last week, saying the board was acting on complaints from, among others, the campaign manager at a campaign group called CitizenGo Africa. The pro-life organization had been campaigning for an investigation of Marie Stopes' advertising practices since last year.  

"Marie Stopes Kenya is hereby directed to immediately cease and desist offering any form of abortion services in all its facilities within the republic," a Nov. 14 letter from the Kenyan Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board read.

The letter also ordered Maries Stopes Kenya to submit weekly reports for the next 60 days of "all services rendered within all its facilities."

Ezekiel Mutua, head of the Kenyan government agency in charge of approving advertisements, welcomed the ban, saying in a statement that the Kenya Film Classification Board had banned abortion advertisements by Marie Stopes Kenya in September, but "the organization defied our ban and continued to run unrated and illegal adverts."

He said the board had also ordered Marie Stopes to "pull down all misleading information on their abortion services from all media platforms."  

Marie Stopes had been operating in Kenya since 1985, BBC reports. The Kenyan Ministry of Health reported in May that the country had spent 533 million Kenyan shillings ($5.29 million) treating complications from back-alley abortions.

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