Kenya Moves Closer to Voting on Draft Constitution Allowing Unlimited Abortions
by Steven Ertelt
May 5, 2010
Nairobi, Kenya (LifeNews.com) — The African nation of Kenya is one step closer to voting on a draft constitution this summer that would allow abortions for the first time. The constitution would undermine longstanding prohibitions on abortions but allowing them to protect the "health" of the mother — which essentially makes all abortions legal.
Even though study after study shows abortions cause problems for women’s physical and mental health, the constitution would allow them under that so-called exception.
Now, Attorney General Amos Wako published the proposed Constitution and all that remains between now and a vote is a review by the Interim Independent Electoral Commission.
Once the commission conducts its review, it will publish the referendum, likely next week, and the debate will begin in earnest in advance of a vote that The Standard says will be conducted by August 6.
President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga have pushed for the new Constitution even though it has generated strong opposition from Christian groups and others because of the pro-abortion provisions.
Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka has taken what he terms a middle ground and is pushing for Kenyans to learn about the constitution and the debate on both sides.
Higher Education Minister William Ruto and Church leaders are calling for a no vote because of the abortion provisions but Musyoka says there is still time to amend the constitution before the vote.
"I am urging my fellow Kenyans to say Yes for posterity, but I want us to do so as a caring nation. I remain convinced that we cannot close the window on amendments," he said, according to the Standard newspaper.
Meanwhile, the Centre for Law and Justice is working diligently to educate Kenyans about the pro-abortion provisions and urge them to vote no if they are not changed. The pro-life group is donating "tens of thousands of dollars" to that effort.
The East African Centre for Law and Justice is working through its Executive Director Joy Mdivo and with Bishop Mark Karuki of the Deliverance Church Kenya to promote the program.
Members of Parliament of the Party of National Unity are behind the main Yes effort, which, as LifeNews.com has reported, may be receiving financial support from the Obama administration.
US Ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger called on Kenya’s political leaders to rally the people to pass the referendum.
Ranneberger also suggested the Obama administration would fund a national campaign to persuade the people to adopt the document.
Industrialization Assistant minister Ndiritu Muriithi, MPs Nelson Gaichuhie (Subukia), Joseph Kiuna (Molo) and Erastus Mureithi (Ol Kalou), according to the news source, are promoting the new campaign for the draft constitution.
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.
Before the revised constitution can come into force, it must be approved by popular vote — expected in July.
The World Congress of Families has said the vote would have the nation adopting language that would facilitate abortion.
"On the one hand, Section 26 states that every person has a right to life, and that life begins at conception," WCF communications director Don Feder told LifeNews.com.
"However, this is totally negated by the next section, which allows abortion when, in the ‘opinion of a trained health professional (not necessarily a physician), there is need for emergency treatment, or the life or health of the mother is in danger, or if permitted by any other written law,’" he said.
Groups like the Center for Reproductive Rights are urging Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to push this abortion loophole on Kenya, Feder noted.
"An exception to a ban on abortion for the ‘health of the mother’ is virtually abortion-on- demand. You can always find an obliging ‘health professional’ — including mental-health workers — who will certify that any condition would endanger a woman’s health unless a pregnancy is terminated," he said. "That’s the way mother’s-health exceptions work in the United States, and why pro-lifers have fought them so hard."
Meanwhile, a poll conducted March 2126 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.
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