Kenya’s longest-established family planning clinic has lost 60 per cent of its budget for defying a Trump administration policy forbidding women’s health providers from offering information or services related to abortion.
Family Health Options Kenya has been forced to close one of its 14 clinics and curtail services at others due to US funding cuts amounting to Sh200 million ($2 million), Washington-based National Public Radio (NPR) reported on Wednesday.
The loss of aid is leading some pregnant Kenyans to resort to unsafe measures, FHOK reproductive health nurse Melvine Ouyo told the US radio network.
Desperate to terminate unwanted pregnancies, these women and girls go to “curtain clinics” — clandestine settings that lack trained doctors and nurses, Ms Ouyo said. Others use crochet needles, added the nurse who works at a clinic in Kibera.
As an example of the help FHOK provides, Ms Ouyo cited the case of a young orphan girl whose uncle had repeatedly abused her sexually.
When the girl became pregnant at age 13, she was determined not to give birth to a baby that would be the product of incest, Ms Ouyo related.
“This girl comes to you suicidal,” the nurse told NPR. “She had already attempted unsafe abortion. She had taken herbs given by friends. Her friends referred her to us, and she was able to access safe abortion services.”
President Trump’s promulgation and expansion of what critics term a “global gag rule” could also prevent FHOK from delivering services unrelated to abortion.
HIV treatments, cancer screenings, post-natal care and vaccinations are among the services Family Health Options may be unable to provide due to the $2 million budget cut.
Deeply impoverished Kenyan women and girls are not seeking care from FHOK clinics because they are unable to pay the small fee the carer now charges to compensate for the loss of US funding, Ms Ouyo said.
Mr Trump and other Republican presidents dating to the 1980s have used the so-called gag rule to spread their anti-abortion policies to developing countries.
One day after taking office in 2017, Mr Trump ordered reinstatement of the rule that had been rescinded by President Obama.
But there is evidence that the ban on services or referrals fails to reduce the incidence of abortions—and may actually have the opposite effect.
A Stanford University study found that rates of induced abortions rose sharply between 1994 and 2008 in African countries most affected by the rule.
SOURCE: Daily Nation