Document Type


Publication Date



One of the most topical areas in reproductive health today is the consequences of induced and often unsafe abortion. Safe motherhood initiatives continue to highlight the contribution of unsafe abortion to the persistent high rates of maternal mortality and morbidity in sub-Saharan Africa. In some countries, unsafe abortion is responsible for up to half of all maternal mortality and morbidity, with adolescents constituting a significant proportion of those procuring unsafe abortions. In Kenya, concern about the problem of incomplete and septic abortion has increased, particularly on the part of service providers who must treat women suffering from the complications of poorly performed procedures. Debate about what can be done to reduce the negative consequences of unsafe abortion ranges from highly emotional arguments to pragmatic policies and programs. In 1998, in response to requests for assistance from Kenyan policymakers, the Population Council embarked on a four-year collaborative program to document the magnitude and nature of the problem of unsafe abortion. With assistance from the Population Council, researchers from the Centre for the Study of Adolescence designed and implemented a package of eight studies. This monograph provides a summary of the findings of these studies.