Pro-Abortion American Legal Group Pushes Report Advocating Abortion in Kenya

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 25, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Abortion American Legal Group Pushes Report Advocating Abortion in Kenya

by Terrence McKeegan, J.D.
March 25, 2010 Note: Terrence McKeegan writes for the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. This article originally appeared in the pro-life group’s Friday Fax publication and is used with permission.

New York, NY ( — Earlier this month, the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), a New York-based public interest law firm that seeks to expand abortion access globally, released a report titled, “In Harm’s Way: The Impact of Kenya’s Restrictive Abortion Law.”

The report and a related video (which was highlighted on CNN this week) were first made public at a CRR side event at the Beijing +15 UN Commission on the Status of Women.

The report follows closely on another CRR report that was designed as a guide for advocacy and litigating for liberalized abortion laws in Africa.

While the report acknowledges the enormous problem of maternal mortality in Kenya, the only solution offered is increased access to family planning, including “safe” and legal abortion: “Unsafe abortion claims the lives of thousands of Kenyan women each year. Their deaths are entirely and easily preventable.”

Among its many conclusions, the report complains of lack of access to contraception, including emergency contraception, particularly among Kenyan adolescents. It also claims that the “stigma of abortion and its criminalized legal status imperils women’s health” and “harms medical providers who provide abortion-related care.”

The tenth conclusion might be the most revealing in the report, as it states that “only 6% of hospitals… and health centers in Kenya were found to offer comprehensive emergency obstetric services,” and “only 11% of all government-managed facilities have the basic components to support 24-hour emergency services.” The report further notes, “Kenyan healthcare facilities often lack basic equipment… including clean latex gloves, soap, water, disinfecting solution, [and] sterilization equipment…”

According to an in-depth analysis of the World Health Organization’s national maternal mortality figures by the National Right to Life Committee, “The evidence shows that a country’s maternal mortality rate is determined to a much greater extent by the quality of medical care than by the legal status of abortion. Abortion complications are not a function of the legality of the procedure, but of the overall medical circumstances in which abortion is performed.”

As in its other reports, the CRR claims that there is a right to abortion based on international treaties, statements by their compliance committees, and “soft law.” However, no international treaty mentions abortion, and while treaty committees can play an advisory role, only states parties to a treaty collectively can interpret the meaning of the rights contained therein.

The timing of these CRR reports coincide with the current drafting of a new Kenyan constitution, which presently includes a provision that the “life of a person begins at conception,” but also has had draft versions with exceptions that would create large loopholes for abortion.

Under current Kenya law, abortion is restricted to cases of danger to the mother’s life and requires three “medical practitioners” to sign off on the procedure. There are also exceptions for rape and for the mother’s “health” at common law, although these are not generally followed.

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