Marie Stopes de­fies ban on ad­vert linked to abor­tion

Business Daily (Kenya) - - ECONOMY & POLITICS - Jmu­tua@ke.na­tion­media.com

In­ter­na­tional char­ity Marie Stopes has de­fied Kenya Film Clas­si­fi­ca­tion Board (KFCB) or­ders to pull down an ad­ver­tise­ment said to pro­mote abor­tion.

The ad­ver­tise­ment has been run­ning on ra­dio weeks af­ter the agency banned it on Septem­ber 10 on claims the cam­paign sup­ports abor­tion of un­planned preg­nan­cies.

The firm’s ex­ec­u­tives risk a five-year jail term or a Sh100,000 fine for vi­o­lat­ing the or­ders.

Marie Stopes — which works in 37 coun­tries pro­vid­ing free con­tra­cep­tion, ad­vice on fam­ily plan­ning, sex­ual health, safe abor­tion and post-abor­tion care — says it is yet to re­ceive a for­mal no­ti­fi­ca­tion on the ban.

The char­ity reck­ons that the con­tro­ver­sial ad­ver­tise­ment aims to help women make an in­formed choice and vowed to con­tinue air­ing the teaser ad­ver­tis­ing at its clin­ics.

KFCB chief ex­ec­u­tive Ezekiel

Mu­tua failed to re­spond to calls and text mes­sages over the is­sue by press time.

The board said Marie Stopes breached the rule that de­mands the film reg­u­la­tor vets an ad­ver­tise­ment be­fore its air­ing.

The ad­ver­tise­ment has stirred con­tro­versy on so­cial me­dia with Kenyans ques­tion­ing whether the char­ity is pro­mot­ing abor­tion. Marie Stopes has asked those out­raged by the ad­ver­tise­ment to call them or in­box on so­cial me­dia for more de­tails.

The Constitution broad­ened ac­cess to abor­tion, per­mit­ting it in cases when a woman’s life is at risk but un­safe abor­tions are rife — and re­main a lead­ing cause of ma­ter­nal mor­tal­ity.

Al­most half a mil­lion abor­tions were con­ducted in Kenya in 2012 — mostly in back­street clin­ics — re­sult­ing in one in four women and girls hav­ing com­pli­ca­tions such as high fever, sep­sis, shock and or­gan fail­ure, said a Min­istry of Health re­port.

An es­ti­mated 266 women die per 100,000 un­safe abor­tions in Kenya — higher than rates es­ti­mated in other East African na­tions, it added.

--FRAN­CIS NDERITU

Kenya Film Clas­si­fi­ca­tion Board CEO Ezekiel Mu­tua. John Mu­tua

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