Unsafe abortion in Kenya is a leading cause of maternal morbidity and mortality. To understand the methods married women aged 24–49 and young, unmarried women aged ≤ 20 used to induce abortion, the providers they utilized and the social, economic and cultural norms that influenced women’s access to safe abortion services, focus groups were conducted with young women and married women in rural and urban communities. Abortion outside public health facilities was mentioned frequently. Because of the need for secrecy to avoid condemnation, uncertainty about the law, and perceived higher cost of safer abortion methods, women sought unsafe abortions from community midwives, drug sellers and/or untrained providers at lower cost. The aim was to inform the design of a community-based intervention on safe abortion for women. Barriers to seeking safe services such as high cost, perceived illegality, and fear of insults and abuse at public facilities among both age groups must be addressed.