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Catholic bishops up in arms over abortion bill

By Mercy Mwai
Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020
Rev Ferdinand Lugonzo who led the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops meeting before the Senate committee. Photo/PD/File
In summary

Mercy Mwai @wangumarci

The catholic church has opposed the passage of the reproductive  rights bill seeking to legalise abortion in the country.

Under the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), the church wants the Reproductive Healthcare Bill 2019, sponsored by Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika, withdrawn on grounds that it is unconstitutional.

Appearing virtually before the Senate Health Committee chaired by Trans Nzoia Senator Michael Mbito, KCCB led by Rev Ferdinand Lugonzo said the Bill is inconsistent with the Constitution.

Human dignity

In a brief to the committee, KCCB argued that the right to life and the right to human dignity, cannot be sub-divided into other amorphous forms of rights.

“Section 18, 23 to 30 of the Bill, sanctions killing of the unborn. It is unconstitutional, as the same allows for termination of pregnancy after conception or fertilisation contrary to Article 26 (2) of the Constitution of Kenya, providing that life begins at conception,” the church argued.

“The Bill presupposes the existence of an amorphous set of rights called ‘reproductive rights’ that undermine the Right to Life protected under Article 26 (1) and (2) of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010,” said  Rev Lugonzo.

KCCB also opposed the Bill saying it trivialises and degrades the life of a woman, as it leaves room for anyone claiming knowledge on health issues to facilitate abortion, yet ordinary medical surgical procedures are always recommended by qualified medical doctors.

In addition, the bishops said the Bill seeks to devalue the sanctity of life as it attempts to disqualify the constitutional, moral and scientific position, that life begins at conception and ends at natural death by calling for abortion.

This, the bishops said, is discriminative as it only targets women, is punitive and coercive to health professionals or healthcare facilities, who for reasons of conscience do not want to conduct abortions, as it attempts to limit the constitutional guaranteed right to freedom of conscience as protected under the Constitution.

“Its efforts shall distinctly confuse the minds of children and society, going against the very right which promises to protect the family, for the benefit of present and future generations through legislative and other measures,” he added.

KCCB said the Bill provides a leeway for aborting babies that would be born with disabilities and special needs.

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