A medical practitioner’s experience

I am from South-West Kenya and personally, I would say, I am an extrovert. I enjoy hanging out with people in my community and I deal with both older and younger people, so I tend to blend in easily with whatever is going on. Be it Fashion, Theatre or seating around and discussing community issues, holding events or cracking jokes. I am a medical practitioner by profession and I work both with rural and urban communities in South West Kenya, so that is Siaya, Kisumu County, Migori, Homabay.

In 2013 I got pregnant, I was often sick and kept on losing weight. I did not know that I had TB because I was misdiagnosed back and forth and given all sorts of antibiotics. I then came across a doctor who performed an additional test and told me that I had TB and needed to urgently begin intense treatment. Afraid, confused and shocked, it is then I realized that I was pregnant. I started stigmatizing myself and questioning whether I was HIV positive. As a provider myself, I was giving all services aside from abortion and I started asking my fellow providers on the chances of transmission if I carried this pregnancy to term. I then had to sit down with my husband and decide if we had to continue with the pregnancy as I underwent TB treatment or it would be best to terminate the pregnancy? We made a decision that we were going to have a safe termination and later we will try again for another pregnancy.

I then started struggling with where I was going to get this service. I asked all government service providers I could find and all of them told me that they could not do it because it wasn’t allowed. Being a service provider, I thought that I had an upper hand and it would be easy for me to access a safe service but it was not. I really struggled. After searching for a long time, I managed to get a private doctor who agreed to do it. I did not know then whether it would be safe or unsafe.
He then helped me terminate the pregnancy using MVA method. Back then there was only MVA available, there was no medical abortion. Providers only knew of Manual Vacuum Aspiration, nobody knew that you could use drugs for a safe termination. I had to have the procedure done at night because during the day I was shy and Afraid, I did not want anyone to see me walk to the clinic.

2 years later I conceived and had another baby.

Because of what I went through I decided to expand my services and to also become an abortion provider and an advocate because I wanted to make access available for other women. I went through training and now I trained the provider who gave me a safe abortion. I also train women, I train providers and I give the service.
The time I had an abortion I was not values clarified, I strongly believed then that Abortion was a crime and that’s why as a provider, I did not want to major around it. I felt like the provider who gave me the service was doing me a favour. I was really appreciative. I look back and feel very lucky that I had a safe abortion and wonder what it would be like if I had an unsafe abortion? Because I struggled when it came to ‘access to service’.

Now that I have been Values clarified and went through that experience, I know I talk about it because most of the time women think that if you have a safe abortion you can’t give birth again and there are many misconceptions about abortion. As a provider, there are no standards and guidelines of dosage. Many providers have not been trained to handle bigger gestation. It’s all trial and error. Everyone has their own definition of what is safe and what is unsafe with only one goal in mind, to help the woman. They are providing abortion within the law but it is not safe because no one truly knows the right protocol.