New State Abortion Bans

  Photo Credits: John Benson After the recent passage of restrictive abortion legislation in Georgia and Alabama, abortion continues to be under attack across the country. The abortion bans signal continued attempts by states to undermine a woman’s right to access an abortion. Last week, Louisiana Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards, signed into law a restrictive “heartbeat” bill. The law, like other recent abortion legislation, would prohibit an abortion after an ultrasound detects electric pulsing of what will become a fetus’ heart—which can occur before most women know they are pregnant. Moreover, the Louisiana law does not include exceptions for rape or incest. Although the law will not go into effect immediately, it is likely to be stalled in the courts. In Missouri, only one abortion clinic remains open. If it closes, it would be the first time a state does not have an abortion clinic since 1974—when the Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade. A judge is expected to a settle...
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OMEGA FOUNDATION MEETING WITH HARUN KODIAGA – HEAD OF PROGRAMS

OMEGA FOUNDATION MEETING WITH HARUN KODIAGA – HEAD OF PROGRAMS

I had the opportunity to meet with Harun, the Head of Programs at the Omega Foundation (OF) at the Kisumu Office. The OF mission is, “to strengthen the capacity of communities to live meaningful lives through integrated health and innovative livelihood solutions” across 12 counties in Kenya: Kisumu, Siaya, Migori, Homa Bay, Busia, Bungoma, Nandi, Uasin-Gishu, Kakamega, Vihiga, and Bomet. OF undertakes various projects including Sexual and Reproductive Health Service Delivery and Advocacy projects funded by Planned Parenthood Global. The projects are being implemented in Kisumu, Siaya, and Homa Bay counties respectively with an objective to increase awareness of, access to, and use of quality family planning (FP) and Post Abortion Care (PAC) services. Twenty facilities in Kisumu are supported in delivery of the services and focus on strengthening the capacity of partners to provide facility-based FP and PAC services and advocate for expansion of Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) rights and services. To achieve their goals, the OF supports provision of...
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Alabama and Georgia Pass Restrictive Abortion Laws

  On Wednesday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed into law the most restrictive anti-abortion legislation in the country. The bill not only bans abortion at nearly every stage of pregnancy, it also criminalizes the procedure for doctors who perform abortions. Although women who receive an abortion will not be prosecuted, the new law targets doctors who could face up to 99 years in prison for performing an abortion. The bill includes protections when a mother’s life is endangered, but it does not include exceptions for rape or incest. While the courts have continued to reaffirm a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion since the decision in Roe v. Wade, the Alabama law is most recent attempt to challenge the 1973 precedent. Since the beginning of 2019, nearly 300 restrictive abortion laws have been introduced in state legislatures across the country. Earlier this month, Georgia governor Brian Kemp signed into law a fetal heartbeat bill that prohibits abortion after a doctor can detect...
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Kisumu Nurse Spotlight: Everline Oruko

Kisumu Nurse Spotlight: Everline Oruko

Everline Oruko is a nurse at Migosi sub-County Hospital, one of three sites in Kisumu, Kenya, that offers cervical cancer screening and treatment. As the Nursing Officer in Charge, Everline leads a team of nurses and staff to improve uptake of cervical cancer screening and cryotherapy treatment for those who test positive. Despite many fits and starts, Everline has remained a constant in the effort to reduce cervical cancer among women in Kisumu. Our Kisumu site coordinator, Faith Otewa, sat down with Everline to talk about her job and her commitment to her work in cervical cancer prevention: Everline was first employed by the Ministry of Health at Ahero Health Facility after she graduated in 1993 with a Diploma in Nursing. She further enrolled for certificate courses in Counseling and HIV Testing Services (HTS) because she felt these would make her service delivery better. Everline then became sponsored for a course in counseling supervision because of her commitment at work. Upon...
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The Inaccessibility of Sexual Health Care for Disabled Women in Canada

The Inaccessibility of Sexual Health Care for Disabled Women in Canada

In Canada, standard health protocol recommends that women receive a Pap test every few years in order to detect cervical cancer as early as possible. However, health practitioners at ACCESS, a clinic in Vancouver which provides sexual health services exclusively for disabled women, have identified a significant deficit in the accessibility of such services for the demographic they serve. This inaccessibility is derived in part from a widespread lack of appropriate equipment. Many offices do not possess an accessible exam bed with a lift, preventing gynecological screening for disabled women. Additionally, many doctors, in providing care to these women, draw upon the misguided assumption that individuals with disabilities are not sexually active and thus neglect to ask their patients for a comprehensive history of their sexual health. Because this discourse does not occur, or is  not prioritized due to more immediate health issues directly relating to the disability, cervical cancer is rarely screened for amongst disabled women, and thus persists largely...
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Tumaini La Maisha Health Services Organization

Tumaini La Maisha Health Services Organization

This is a non-profit organization that works jointly with Kisumu Hospice Center established at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH) on cancer projects. Breast, cervical, prostate and esophageal cancers are its focus. The Kisumu Hospice serves the local community and supports a satellite hospice center at the Siaya District Hospital. On average, the hospice aids 50 patients each month. The organization promotes cancer awareness and helps navigation through patient referall by community screening and linkage. The foundation has established an accommodation unit in Nairobi that hosts a total of six patients at a time who have been referred for radiotherapy. It has also established a school in Nyakach (Kisumu County) for vulnerable children and offers support to the school. The organization works with partners like Aga Khan Health Services, JOOTRH and Oncology Department to offer services to cancer patients. The organization takes the lead in participating in national events, organizing medical camps and community outreach programs with an aim to...
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New York State Passes Reproductive Health Act

New York State Passes Reproductive Health Act

On the 46th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the New York legislature passed a law protecting a woman's right to abortions. The most controversial aspect of the law is its provision for abortions after 24 weeks, in cases of fetal in-viability or danger to the woman's life or heath. According to the Guttmacher Institute, only slightly more than one percent of abortions are performed during or after 21 weeks of pregnancy. The law also took abortion off of the state's criminal code, which prevents medical professionals from being criminally prosecuted. The pro-choice community has lauded the law's passage, considering it a protection against possible future decisions by the Supreme Court. The Catholic Bishops of New York State denounced the law, and many critics claim it is too far-reaching....
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Plan International Meeting

Plan International Meeting

I met with Plan International on January 17th. Plan International is an independent children’s rights organization committed to supporting vulnerable and marginalized children and their communities. The organization directly works with the community, schools, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and County Government. PLAN International works in 18 counties across Kenya: Nairobi, Machakos, Kajiado, Tharaka Nithi, Siaya, Bungoma, Busia, Taita Taveta, Kilifi, Mombasa, Kwale, Vihiga, Kakamega, Kisii, Migori, Homabay, Kisumu and Marsabit. PLAN’S key areas of focus are; Child protection Improving access to basic, quality education and early childhood development Quality healthcare including water, sanitation and hygiene, as well as adolescent and child health Youth employment and economic opportunities Resilience-building through disaster risk management To achieve part of this core activities, PLAN implements an Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (ASRHR) Project in Kisumu County, in the 2 sub-counties Kisumu West and Seme. The project targets children, parents and the community at large to enhance the wellbeing of the youth. The project implements: Training...
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Looking At Gender Based Violence in Kenya

Looking At Gender Based Violence in Kenya

The 2014 Kenya Demographic and Household Survey (KDHS) indicates that Gender Based Violence (GBV) occurs in all parts of the country. Specifically, 47% of women and 40% of men between ages 15 and 49 reported that they have experienced either physical or sexual violence, while 45% of women and 44% of men between ages 14 and 49 have experienced physical violence (KDHS 2014). Reports further indicate an alarming increasing number of cases, demonstrating that GBV remains one of the most pervasive human rights violations in the country. The areas Nyanza and Western have the highest rates of GBV cases in Kenya. More than 500 survivors within and beyond are set to benefit from an established Gender Based Violence Recovery Centre in Kisumu (Africa Women and Child Magazine). The Gender Based Violence Recovery Centre based at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH) was constructed with support from KEMRI/CDC, which funded the construction of the building. It is a fully-fledged Recovery...
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Judges Block Trump Birth Control Policy

Judges Block Trump Birth Control Policy

This Monday, Philadelphia District Judge Wendy Beetlestone decided to block a Trump administration rule that would allow employers to decline contraceptive healthcare coverage on religious grounds. While the Women's Health Amendment of the Affordable Care Act originally required employer-provided healthcare plans to include free or affordable birth control, the current administration amended the ACA to expand religious-based exemptions. The Trump administration's rules would have impacted tens of hundreds of childbearing-age women, increasing pressure on state-funded healthcare services. This nationwide injunction followed a similar decision earlier in the day, in which a California judge blocked the new rules for 13 states and the District of Columbia. After this decision, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement that “the law couldn’t be clearer – employers have no business interfering in women’s healthcare decisions. Today’s court ruling stops another attempt by the Trump Administration to trample on women’s access to basic reproductive care. It’s 2019, yet the Trump Administration is still trying to roll...
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