International charity Marie Stopes has defied Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) orders to pull down an advertisement said to promote abortion.
The advertisement has been running on radio weeks after the agency banned it on September 10 on claims the campaign supports abortion of unplanned pregnancies.
The firm’s executives risk a five-year jail term or a Sh100,000 fine for violating the orders.
Marie Stopes — which works in 37 countries providing free contraception, advice on family planning, sexual health, safe abortion and post-abortion care — says it is yet to receive a formal notification on the ban.
The charity reckons that the controversial advertisement aims to help women make an informed choice and vowed to continue airing the teaser advertising at its clinics.
KFCB chief executive Ezekiel Mutua failed to respond to calls and text messages over the issue by press time.
The board said Marie Stopes breached the rule that demands the film regulator vets an advertisement before its airing.
The advertisement has stirred controversy on social media with Kenyans questioning whether the charity is promoting abortion. Marie Stopes has asked those outraged by the advertisement to call them or inbox on social media for more details.
The Constitution broadened access to abortion, permitting it in cases when a woman’s life is at risk but unsafe abortions are rife — and remain a leading cause of maternal mortality.
Almost half a million abortions were conducted in Kenya in 2012 — mostly in backstreet clinics —resulting in one in four women and girls having complications such as high fever, sepsis, shock and organ failure, said a Ministry of Health report.
An estimated 266 women die per 100,000 unsafe abortions in Kenya — higher than rates estimated in other East African nations, it added.