The authorities in Kenya have banned the international health organisation Marie Stopes from offering any form of abortion services.
The Medical Practitioners Board says it made the decision after investigating complaints that the group’s adverts were promoting abortion.
Abortion is illegal in Kenya unless a mother’s health is in danger.
Marie Stopes says it operates within the law, offering counselling services including post-abortion care.
The head of the government agency in charge of approving adverts, Alfred Mutua, welcomed the ban and accused the previous US government of causing moral decay in Kenya by promoting abortion.
Some Kenyans fear the ban could lead to a rise in unsafe back-street abortions.
Why the ban?
A letter sent from the Medical Practitioners Board to Marie Stopes on Wednesday says: “Marie Stopes Kenya is hereby directed to immediately cease and desist offering any form of abortion services in all its facilities within the republic.”
Marie Stopes was also instructed to file a weekly report on all services rendered in its facilities for 60 days.
The board says it acted on complaints from, among others, Ann Kioko, campaign manager at CitizenGo Africa, and Dr Ezekiel Mutua, chief executive officer of the Kenya Film Classification Board.
What is Marie Stopes?
Marie Stopes International prides itself on being the world’s largest provider of contraception and safe abortion services, with more than 12,000 team members in 37 countries.
Founded in 1976, it grew out of the Marie Stopes clinic in central London.
The Kenyan branch of Marie Stopes has been offering reproductive services since 1985, running 22 clinics and 15 mobile outreach clinics.
Its slogan is “Children by Choice not Chance”.
It is the go-to facility for women with unwanted pregnancies, according to local newspaper Sunday Nation.
The organisation’s country director, Ms Dana Tilson, told the paper the abortion services they were offering conformed with the constitution.
“Marie Stopes Kenya offers pregnancy crisis counselling and post-abortion care with the aim of saving the woman and promoting positive health outcomes,” she said.