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When a woman has to abort her husband’s child

Sandra Wekesa @andayisandra

The mention of abortion conjures up images of a young, irresponsible, helpless youth who cannot sustain a new life because of financial constraints and the “shame” that comes with an early pregnancy. However, the opposite of the matter is the truth of the reality in our society.

When Rose Ondieki (not her real name) got married, she did not think that having unplanned children could ever be an issue. She always kept her husband informed and always ensured they were on the same page on family matters.

“I thought that since we were married, there would be no limitations to the number of children we could sire and even if we birthed a football team, we would raise them together,” she says.

Pregnancy jitters

She explains that when she first found out she was pregnant, she was worried abut how her husband would react. She worried about what would be the best time to break the news.

“What added to my anxiety was that he had expressed reservations about becoming a parent. That really broke my heart but I did not think that it could come in the way of our marriage,” says Rose.

When she got to her second month, she made a decision to reveal the news. On the material day, she prepared his favourite meal and decided to be on her best behaviour. As soon as they retired to bed, she broke the news. He was silent for an hour before clearing his throat in preparation to talk.

“I begun to tremble. I did not know what he was going to say and anxiety consumed me immediately. At the time he was ethereal, I did not know what to do, so I sat silently,” she says.

“He kept asking what happened to the contraceptives I had been taking. I had to explain in details, but the conversation ended with me having to get rid of it since he was not ready financially,” says Rose.

Disappointed by her husband’s one sided decisions, she decided to seek advice from her relatives. In as much as she knew he really loved her, she was so confused by how ruthless he could be to an extent of wanting to kill their first child.

“We had been married for two years and I thought we were ready to deal with anything that popped up. However, I decided to undergo the procedure despite the situation,” says Rose.

Like Ondieki, many women have had to terminate their pregnancies to protect their relationships and careers.

Save marriages

Elvis Nyarongo, a doctor at a clinic whose name cannot be disclosed because of the sensitivity of the matter, says many women have an abortion to save their marriages.

He says that quite a number of women who procure abortions are either married or in relationships.

“Abortion is very draining. Arriving at a decision to abort takes a lot of soul searching,” says Elvis.

Abortion is illegal as outlined in Article 26 of the Constitution, unless in the opinion a health professional, of the need for emergency treatment, or the life and health of the mother is in danger.

Catherine Gachutha, a psychologist, strongly believes that when couples willingly abort, they sometimes are gripped with loss, grief and guilt, which they may be unable to address in a healthy manner.

Unresolved grief ends up affecting their relationship and might result in separation while others develop emotional aloofness and resentments. She adds that the family is affected in various ways.

“The family is deprived of continuity through the unborn child, resentments develop, especially if the abortion is forced on the wife or partner for whatever reason, the family start developing unhealthy methods of dealing with issues such as avoidance and eventually this affects the family dramatically,” says Catherine.

“As a therapist, I have listened to enough couples who agonize over the decisions they made of eliminating an unborn child. With a hindsight, they see it as selfish and as an inability to look at the situation positively.

Some couples may never conceive after that and the very action contributes to pathological grief. Several cases of depression that I have handled resulted from abortions,” she says.

She concludes by saying that in as much as the youth might think that abortion will help secure their  careers it is the wrong choice because there is nothing as important as the life of a newborn.

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