On Nov. 14, the Kenyan Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board (MPDB) prohibited Marie Stopes International, the world’s largest abortion provider, from committing any surgical or medical abortions in the country and told the organization to cease promoting abortion in its advertisements.
In September, Marie Stopes was instructed to stop “drumming up” business for abortion by appealing to teenage girls in online and radio advertisements. The next month, the medical board opened an investigation into Marie Stopes’ activities in the east African nation.
In November, Daniel Yumba, CEO of the MPDB, wrote a letter to Marie Stopes also instructing the organization to separate its health care delivery systems from its advocacy function and to provide evidence of compliance to the board for the next two months with weekly reports of all services it provides patients in the country.
Abortion is illegal in Kenya unless a mother’s health is in danger. Yumba said Marie Stopes activities violated Kenyan law and in his letter he stated: “Marie Stopes Kenya is hereby directed to immediately cease and desist offering any form of abortion services in all its facilities within the republic.” Yumba also said Marie Stopes is flouting medical body rules and broadcasting regulations that ban advertising or promoting abortion. The board acted after complaints from Ann Kioko, campaign manager at the pro-life group CitizenGo Africa, and Ezekiel Mutua, CEO of the Kenya Film Classification Board. The MPDB also informed Marie Stopes that it must cease promoting abortion on its website and social media platforms.
Marie Stopes operates 22 facilities and 15 “mobile outreach” facilities in Kenya. Marie Stopes denies it breaks the law, saying it offers “counselling services” and “post-abortion care.” The Sunday Nation, a Nairobi newspaper, reported that illegal abortions are common-place at both “backdoor clinics” and the urban hospitals. It quoted two gynaecologists who said they have treated many women who have suffered permanent damage, including infertility, from illegal abortions. Marie Stopes contends that illegal abortions are unsafe and that bringing abortion into the open is the only way women can access safe abortions. John Ongech, a gynaecologist at Kenyatta National Hospital, told the paper, “It is better to carry a child to term and give birth rather than having an unsafe abortion which will later have so many health implications.”
Marie Stopes says it abides by the law while putting pressure on the Kenyan government to liberalize abortion and lobbying regulators to ignore the current law.
Also in November, the government of Niger, a west African country, shut down two Marie Stopes facilities for defying the nation’s pro-life law. Niger only allows abortions when it is deemed necessary to save the life of the mother. A government inquiry determined that Marie Stopes clinics in Niamey, the capital, and Maradi, were committing abortions. The Daily Mail reported that both facilities were caught carrying out “manual vacuum aspiration,” a form of abortion, for 30,000 CFA francs, or about C$60.
Niger Health Minister Idi Illiassou issued a statement on Nov. 22: “We have decided to close this charity on grounds of a 2006 law which bans abortions. Our inquiries have shown that this non-governmental organisation is enabling the voluntary interruption of pregnancy.”
Niger media report that the health department is prepared to pursue criminal charges for those involved in the illegal abortions, although it is believed that Marie Stopes’ accomplices have fled the country.
Marie Stopes has not commented on the Niger action against their organization, although their website states that it only provides contraception services in the country.
The United Kingdom-based Marie Stopes International is the largest abortion provider in the world, with more than 12,000 employees in 37 countries. It is estimated to carry out more than 4.5 million abortions annually, about three times the number committed by Planned Parenthood International.
The UK-based Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) said in a statement, that “Marie Stopes has been shamelessly disregarding local laws to push their abortion agenda on Africa for decades,” and “it is good to see the people of (Kenya and Niger) fighting back, and exposing their deceitful practices.”
Obianuju Ekeocha, the president of Culture of Life Africa who has produced a documentary exposing the abortion-agenda of Marie Stopes, said, “It’s great to see two African counties standing up against Marie Stopes International,” and “There are many more African countries that have begun to question the work of MSI in their villages and their cities.”
While Kenya and Niger were taking action against Marie Stopes, the Canadian government announced it would be giving money to the abortion giant. Speaking at the International Conference on Family Planning in Kigali, Rwanda, on Nov. 13, International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced an $8-million grant to the organization as part of a $104.4-million overall commitment to “sexual and reproductive rights.” Ottawa has given Marie Stopes a total of $24.3 million since 2017. Global Affairs Canada insists family planning money is not used for abortions in countries wh ere the procedure is outlawed, but both Bibeau and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have said that foreign aid money will go to efforts to lobby countries to liberalize restrictive abortion laws.
Matthew Wojciechowski, vice president of Campaign Life Coalition and an expert on United Nations policy, calls the Trudeau government grants “ideological colonization.”
Ekeocha said that even if aid is earmarked for non-abortion work, it frees other Marie Stopes resources for carrying out abortions.