Niger orders closure of Marie Stopes clinics

(Photo: Facebook/Marie Stopes International)

Niger has become the second African country to take action against abortion provider Marie Stopes International in recent weeks.

After Kenya demanded that the charity stop providing abortions earlier this month, Niger has now followed suit by ordering the closure of two centres, AFP news agency reports.

Explaining the closures, the Niger government alleged that the centres have violated the country's abortion regulations.

'We have decided to close this charity on grounds of a 2006 law which bans abortions,' said Health minister Idi Illiassou, according to AFP.

'Our inquiries have shown that this non-governmental organisation is enabling the voluntary interruption of pregnancy,' he continued, adding that this was 'not authorised' in Niger.

On its website, Marie Stopes says it opened its first centre in Niger in 2016 and that it provides family planning information and contraception in the country. It makes no mention of abortion services but also claims that in 2017, it 'prevented' 12,472 unintended pregnancies and 4,748 'unsafe abortions'.

A representative told Reuters that Marie Stopes Niger was cooperating with authorities and that services outside of the two centres were running as normal.

The action by the Niger government comes just weeks after Kenya accused Marie Stopes of promoting abortion in radio adverts and demanded that it stop performing abortions at its centres across the country.

Marie Stopes Kenya denied any wrongdoing.

'At no point did we promote abortions,' marketing director Christopher Wainaina told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

'Our media campaign talks about the legal status of abortion in Kenya, the stigma of abortion that exists and how it is leading to high numbers of women becoming victims of botched backstreet abortions and dying as a result.'