Journal Article

Providers, unmarried young women, and post-abortion care in Kenya

Young women and girls in Kenya face challenges in access to abortion care services. Using in-depth and focus group interviews, we explored providers’ constructions of these challenges. In general, providers considered abortion to be commonplace in Kenya; reported being regularly approached to offer abortion related care and services; and articulated the structural, contextual, and personal challenges they faced in serving young post-abortion care (PAC) patients. They also considered induced abortion among young unmarried girls to be especially objectionable; stressed premarital fertility and out-of-union sexual activity among unmarried young girls as transgressive of respectable femininity and proper adolescence; blamed young women and girls for the challenges they reported in obtaining PAC services; and linked these challenges to young women’s efforts to conceal their failures related to gender and adolescence, exemplified by pre-marital pregnancy and abortion. This study shows how providers’ distinctive emphasis that young abortion care-seekers are to blame for their own difficulties in accessing PAC may add to the ongoing crisis of postabortion care for young women and adolescent girls in Kenya.

Published in a peer-reviewed journal of the Population Council. Chimaraoke O. Izugbara is Senior Research Scientist; Carolyne P. Egesa is Research Officer; Caroline W. Kabiru is Research Scientist; and Estelle M. Sidze is Associate Research Scientist, African Population and Health Research Center, Nairobi, Kenya.