Abortion is one of the more controversial issues in the world today. In Africa, it is a matter of life and death as many women do not have access to safe abortions due to restrictive abortion laws. The world health organization estimates that 24 out of every 1,000 African women aged 15 – 44 have unsafe abortions every year. Recent studies have found that the mortality due to unsafe abortions in Kenya is over 33 per cent, and up to 50 per cent of all maternal deaths in Ethiopia is a result of unsafe abortions. These terrifying numbers reflect an urgent problem – one that is aggravated by an international network of western organizations.
“Stop the Pro-Abortion Madness!” a petition states boldly on the Citizen Go Website.
In May 2012, a radical Christian organization called Hazte Oir organized the largest gathering of anti-abortionists from all over the world called “The World Congress of Families” in Madrid. This congress, attended by influential members of the religious right in the USA, right-wing politicians from Germany, France and Italy as well as representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church among others, lasted for 3 days and was closed off with a church service. These attendees all agree that preserving the father-mother-child family unit is the only way to save society.
A few months after this congress, Hazte Oir created the Citizen Go website, a platform that leads anti-abortion campaigns all over the world. What started as a campaign within Spain, has grown to become a worldwide movement with real political influence. Citizen Go has run many homophobic, anti-sex education and anti-abortion petitions in countries all over the world. In 2017, she opened an offshoot in Kenya called Citizen Go Africa to slow down social liberalization in African countries with a strong focus on abortion.
In 2019, Citizen Go ran a campaign against British health organization Marie Stopes in Nigeria. Marie Stopes is a non-profit that offers a wide range of sexual and reproductive healthcare services including family planning, and safe abortion clinics. This was not the first time Citizen Go would go after Marie Stopes and in Kenya, the organization had to temporarily shut down all their clinics. On May 21 2019, a Marie Stopes Clinic in the city of Lagos was raided by policemen and Dr Bernard Fatoye was temporarily arrested on suspicion of illegal abortion, a serious crime in Nigeria. However, Marie Stopes, via the information on their website, only carries out treatments for miscarriages and offers post-abortion care among other reproductive health services.
Citizen Go is not the only western organization fighting hard to end abortion in Africa. One organization, however, has gone beyond writing petitions and is now attempting to stop abortions that are already halfway through.