Kenya Pro-Life Advocates Protest Pro-Abortion Medical Event

International   |   Adam Cassandra   |   Sep 20, 2011   |   11:20AM   |   Nairobi, Kenya

Human Life International (HLI) Kenya led several student organizations in a peaceful protest last week of a conference convened in Kenya to develop strategies on implementing stealth abortion-legalizing provisions from Kenya’s year-old revised constitution.

“Senior Kenyan politicians promised the people of Kenya that Articles 26(4) and 43(1)(a) [the controversial portions of the new constitution] would never be interpreted in a manner that legalizes abortion on demand in this country,” according to HLI Kenya director Father Raphael Wanjohi. “They also argued, in the pre-referendum days, that legalizing abortion was not one of the purposes of the new constitution.”

“Now they are doing exactly what they promised they would not do, and they expect us to simply remain quiet,” said Father Wanjohi.

Students from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture & Technology; Kenyatta University; and University of Nairobi were among the hundreds of demonstrators against the conference which took place on September 15.

Despite provisions in the constitution stating that, “Every person has the right to life,” [26(1)] and, “The life of a person begins at conception,” [26(2)], Article 26(4) of the Constitution permits abortion “if 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 written law.” And Article 43(1)(a) states that, “Every person has the right to the highest attainable standard of health, which includes the right to health care services, including reproductive health care.”

The second annual “State of Maternal Mortality in Kenya” conference was sponsored by the Kenya Medical Association (KMA), and featured several speakers known for advocating wider access to abortion and other ‘reproductive health’ services.

In the keynote address, former British and Scottish Parliament leader Lord David Steel of Aikwood told the conference members, “I count it a great honour to have been invited to address this important conference as a major contribution to implementing the new constitution of Kenya.” Steel was extremely influential in the fight to legalize abortion in England in the late 1960s.

“The background to this event is the important change in your new constitution which decriminalizes medical abortion in this country for the first time,” said Steel.

Father Wanjohi sat down for a video interview at HLI’s international headquarters in Virginia last month on the one-year anniversary of the referendum in which he said, “One can say, okay, formally [abortion] is not legalized, but when you look at the constitution itself, it is legalized.  It is legal.  Because a woman can just go and say, ‘I don’t want … this baby because it’s affecting my health.’”

Father Wanjohi’s assertion that conference organizers wanted to bring abortion-legalizing provisions of the new constitution into practice, despite repeated claims to the contrary by political leaders, is supported by the published “expected conference outcomes,” which were clearly stated on the web site for the conference:

  • To have participants competent in the reproductive health related provisions of the Constitution
  • To develop recommendations on the legal and policy imperatives necessary in the implementation of the reproductive health provisions in the Constitution
  • Gain an understanding on how the public health care system is affected by maternal deaths and unsafe abortions
  • Understand how the Kenyan law on abortion relates to international treaties and conventions

Father Wanjohi pointed out that the supposed desire to eliminate “unsafe abortions” is really a desire to make abortion not only legal, but completely unrestricted and free of charge, based on the assumption that legalized abortion improves maternal health.

“The assertion that making abortion widely available and legal lowers maternal mortality is demonstrably false,” said Father Wanjohi. “Noting the choice, caliber, ideology and inclination of the speakers, the sole purpose of the conference is to make operational the abortion provisions of the constitution.”

“The same forces that wanted the constitution passed not for the good provisions therein, but for the abortion-enabling loopholes, are responsible for convening this conference,” Father Wanjohi said. Note:  Reprinted with permission from Human Life International’s World Watch forum. Adam Cassandra is a Communications Specialist at Human Life International.