Getting Around the Law: Covert Abortions in Kenya, and U.S. AIDS Relief

Steven Mosher
Reproduced with Permission

One of the most common methods of abortion in the developing world is manual vacuum aspiration, involving a crude hand-held suction device called a Manual Vacuum Aspirator (MVA) and often an uninformed victim. Abortion groups, such as the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) and Marie Stopes International (MSI), claim that the MVA is not used for abortion, but for "post-abortion care" (PAC) or "menstrual regulation" instead.

But in a dusty backwater of Western Kenya, three hundred miles from the capital city of Nairobi, sits a Marie Stopes abortion clinic.

In Kenya's Western Province, Uihiga District, on March 14, 2003, PRI investigators entered the Marie Stopes Mbale Center clinic and interviewed clinic manager, Moses Ferdinand. PRI asked Ferdinand: "Is there a legal problem with Marie Stopes doing 'MR' [menstrual regulation] or 'post-abortion care' [PAC]-because these procedures might be considered to be abortion?" Ferdinand responded: "MR is abortion, so we include it under PAC [post-abortion care]."

Ferdinand said this tactic-to do MVA abortion under the guise of post-abortion care-is employed by MSI in all of its 21 clinics in Kenya. An MVA abortion costs about 1,500 Kenya shillings, he said. The procedure normally takes between five and ten minutes, he said, and is performed without anesthesia. "Depending on the courage of the medic," Ferdinand continued, an MVA abortion can be performed on a woman "past 16 weeks gestation." (He admitted that some women may cry at this point.) He explained that two doctors may be found to attest that the abortion is performed for "health" reasons. But doctors in Kenya, he said, are commonly doing abortions now, "but people just don't want to admit it." In addition to this interview, photographic evidence was obtained of MSI abortion clinic in Mbale, including an MSI "reproductive health services" price list which advertises MVA abortion under the bland and deceptive title: "procedure."

Ferdinand said that MSI representatives have collaborated with USAID-funded groups in the past. In Western Province, MSI workers attended a USAID-funded training session for family planning operations. In addition, PRI has found that several USAID-funded "family planning" groups, including EngenderHealth, have participated in programs designed to implement a plan of action for MVA use in Africa. This plan-organized by MSI and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA)-is designed to "improve access" to MVA services and to "integrate PAC [post abortion care] into existing RH [reproductive health] training systems."1

During PRI's month-long investigation of covert abortion operations and USAID-funded "family planning" in Kenya this March, PRI also spoke with David Walker, Kenya's Country Representative for USAID-funded Population Services International (PSI). According to Walker, PSI operations in Kenya fit easily through "loopholes" in the Mexico City Policy, so PSI is able to work with the Kenyan affiliate of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), the Family Planning Association of Kenya (FPAK).

Under the euphemism of PAC (post-abortion care), U.S.-funded "family planning" groups flaunt U.S. law by collaborating with abortion groups under the guise of post-abortion care or AIDS relief.

AIDS and Abortion

International abortion groups, and U.S.-funded "family planning" groups which support them, are gearing up to get around America's pro-life policies in another way: by going after "AIDS relief" funds.

In the context of President Bush's $15 billion Emergency AIDS Relief Plan, the U.S. State Department has already recommended that the Mexico City policy not be applied to abortion groups. As long these groups keep their AIDS projects "discrete"-that is, separate from their abortion-related activities-they would be eligible for AIDS relief funding.2

There are many problems with this proposed policy. Many USAID-funded "family planning" groups already treat the Mexico City Policy as a mere technicality, worthy of lip service but little more. As we reported above, population control groups collaborate to circumvent the policy, promoting and performing abortions in violation of the Mexico City Policy, even in countries like Kenya where abortion is against the law. Such groups cannot be trusted with additional U.S. funds, whether these are for AIDS relief, family planning, or reproductive health care.

Moreover, the World Health Organization, an agency of the U.N., explicitly promotes abortion as a method of AIDS prevention.3 In the name of preventing mother-to-child transmission, WHO advocates ending the lives of unborn children suspected of carrying the AIDS virus. In countries like Kenya, where abortion is generally illegal, a "health of the mother" exception and the complicity of two doctors would allow such AIDS-related abortions to be carried out under the color of the law.

A third problem with the proposed AIDS Relief Plan involves funding for The Global Fund. This controversial United Nations boondoggle would divert $1 billion away from bilateral AIDS programs, which can be monitored and, if necessary, shut down. The Global Fund operates in a shroud of secrecy, and little is known about the "country coordinating mechanisms" set up in a number of countries to oversee AIDS projects. PRI has discovered that the UNFPA-an organization which supports coercive abortion in China-is playing a major role in these "country coordinating mechanisms," and would therefore be in line to both receive and disperse any U.S. funds that fall into the hands of The Global Fund.

Those who oppose the use of U.S. tax dollars to fund abortions overseas must adopt a tripartite strategy. They must oppose USAID support of organizations involved with MVA abortions in Kenya and elsewhere. They must insist that the AIDS Relief Plan in general, and The Global Fund in particular, not be used as a Trojan Horse by the UNFPA, IPPF and other militant pro-abortion groups to gain access to the U.S. Treasury. And they must ask the Bush administration to broaden the Mexico City policy to deny all U.S. foreign aid-whether it fall under the category of "family planning," "population stabilization," "AIDS Relief," or whatever-to organizations that advocate for or perform abortions.


1 EngenderHealth, "Country Action Plan: Ethiopia," [Back]

2 U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, Briefing Memorandum, 11 February 2003. [Back]

3 The World Health Organization promotes abortion under the guise of prevention of mother-to-child AIDS transmission. See PRI Weekly Briefing, "The Global Fund for Abortion, Prostitution, and the Homosexual Agenda," 21 Feb. 2003,; WHO Fact Sheet 10: "Women and HIV and Mother to Child Transmission," 2000. [Back]