Kenya Government Won’t Change Pro-Abortion Draft Constitution Before Vote

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 27, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Kenya Government Won’t Change Pro-Abortion Draft Constitution Before Vote

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
April 27
, 2010

Nairobi, Kenya (LifeNews.com) — The Kenya government will not make any further changes to the proposed Constitution citizens will vote on this summer that overturns the nation’s ban on abortions. The Kenya Cabinet met on Tuesday and, afterwards, said politicians and church leaders opposed to the constitution will have to live with the document.

Although the draft contains language advocating the right to life for unborn children, it contains a section with a health exception that essentially opens the nation to unlimited abortions throughout pregnancy for any reason.

The Daily Nation newspaper indicated the government released a statement saying it was too late to make further changes before the July vote.

"After the review the Cabinet concluded that it was practically impossible at this stage to amend the Constitution of Kenya or Constitution Review Act in order to accommodate concerns expressed by Christian Church leaders and others," it said.

"Consequently, Cabinet agreed to support the draft constitution in its current form," the statement released by President Kibaki said.

Despite the assessment that the constitution can’t be changed, the government told the Daily Nation that talks between it and church leaders will continue to "accommodate the concerns of the Christian Churches on the issue of abortion and right to life."

Ultimately, that could result in Parliament debating and voting on an amendment to the Constitution saying it will not overturn laws prohibiting abortions. But whether an agreement to have a vote, which could fail, will be enough to get support for the constitution from pro-life advocates this summer remains to be seen.

Church leaders have concerns about a section of Article 26 which allows abortion practitioners to do abortions in cases where the pregnancy supposedly threatens the mother’s health. In the United States and other countries, that has allowed unlimited abortions as all abortions are justified under that exception.

The section reads: "Abortion is not permitted unless, in the opinion of a trained health professional, there is need for emergency treatment, or the life or health of the mother is in danger , or if permitted by any other law."

Higher Education minister William Ruto, church leaders and others have threatened to mount a campaign to get people to vote no if the problem is not resolved.

Bishop Jerry Kibarabara told All Africa that government officials have been reluctant to address the concerns and did not come prepared for a meeting before the Cabinet session to address them.

"We were prepared for this meeting today, but the government sought more time, hence we have postponed the talks," he said.

"It is clear these guys are only buying time. They are completely disinterested in any talks," another member of the religious team told the news agency.

The Attorney General is expected to publish the proposed constitution by May 6.

President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga have both started a major campaign to urge Kenya residents to vote for it.

Members of Parliament of the Party of National Unity are behind the effort, which, as LifeNews.com has reported, may be receiving financial support from the Obama administration.

Joseph Meaney of Human Life International has said the constitution violates the views of most Kenyans who are pro-life.

"Kenyans are pro-life," he said. "When we see the new articles added to the constitution and approved by Parliament under heavy pressure from Western elites, we are seeing an assault on the very heart of the Kenyan people."

"Perhaps the greatest insult is that this attack is happening under the banner of ‘improving women’s health’. The only ones who believe that killing an unborn child is good for a woman’s health are those who will profit from the slaughter, Western powers who are pouring untold millions of dollars into measures to keep Africa’s children from being born," he told LifeNews.com.

"This is nothing but population control, an imperialist assault intended to rob Africa of its future by eliminating her children. It is a disgrace," he said.

A poll conducted March 21–26 by the polling firm Synovate, formerly known as Steadman, shows the citizens of Kenya are overwhelmingly pro-life.

"Thinking about abortion, which of the following is closest to your view?” the firm asked respondents.

Some 69 percent of Kenya residents are against legalizing abortions while just 9 percent support it. Another 16 percent say it doesn’t matter while 6 percent said they had no opinion.

Answering the question, “When do you believe human life begins?” 77 percent of Kenyans stated that life begins at conception, while 19 percent stated that human life begins at the time of birth.

Respondents were also asked about their views concerning the new Kenyan Constitution and the question found only 19 percent support it as currently written, while a majority, 52 percent, want Parliament to revise the document before passage.

Scott Fischbach, the director of MMCL Go, an international pro-life outreach, provided the polling results to LifeNews.com.

"Currently, advocates of abortion are using the issue of maternal mortality and illegal abortions to argue for legalization of the procedure. However, the answer to illegal abortions and high maternal mortality rates is very simple: provide hope, opportunity and support for pregnant women by insuring a clean water supply, clean blood supply and adequate health care," he said.

"Kenya is a pro-life country and ought not to head toward an abortion-on-demand policy in its new Constitution," he added.

Before the revised constitution can come into force, it must be approved by popular vote — expected in July.

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