Guest Blog from James Wamathai-Accountant, Writer, Poet & Blogger James Wamathai started writing at an early age but only started sharing his work in early 2009 through various platforms. He founded the poetry blog in June 2009
Abortion is a very sensitive issue in my country and I think that that’s also the case in most African countries. Predictably, it is outlawed here. Abortion is especially opposed by religious organizations and this led to their opposing the new Kenyan constitution when it had been proposed even though the clause on abortion had stated implicitly that it is outlawed. The clause reads ‘Abortion is not permitted unless, in the opinion of a trained health professional, 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.’ They believed that the words ‘trained health professional’ were ambiguous and it was a loophole that some people would take advantage of.
The majority of those who oppose abortion are men, a fact I find ludicrous because they will never know how it feels like to be pregnant or to give birth and so you wonder why they have such strong opinions on the issue. Of course they have a part to play in conception but I don’t think they should tell women what to do with their bodies. Carrying a baby to term is serious business and it comes with some risk to the mother, the act of giving birth itself also has its risks. According to official figures, around 10,000 women die every year from child birth related complications. This figure might be more since some women give birth at home and if they die the real reason for their death might not be revealed to the authorities and an autopsy might not be performed.
The major argument that the church and other people opposed to abortion give is that life is sacred and it begins at conception and it should not be taken away at all costs. That may be true but that’s a religious view in my opinion and I think that when such matters are concerned there should be a separation between the state and religion. We should be more pragmatic and realistic while tackling the issue because I believe outlawing it is not the solution. It is currently illegal but abortions still take place and the majority of those who perform them are not exactly professionals and they do it at great risk to the women. Some women die during the procedure, some cannot give birth afterwards and others require emergency medical attention. If abortion was made legal but with strict rules and regulations I believe that this situation can be avoided. I’m not trying to suggest that abortion is ok but outlawing it is not necessarily a good thing in itself but letting a woman decide what she should do with her body is.