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Rights group ask State to defend reproductive health

By Irene Githinji
Tuesday, July 7th, 2020
Centre for Reproductive Rights senior regional director for Africa Evelyne Opondo (left) chats with Reproductive Health Network Kenya Executive Director Nelly munyasia after a Reproductive Healthcare Bill press briefing in Nairobi. PHOTO/PD/Bernard Malonza
In summary
    • Rights bodies have urged the Government to comply with its human rights obligations to ensure sexual reproductive health and rights are respected, protected, and fulfilled.
    • The group said currently there lacks comprehensive laws, regulations and guidelines to guide health professionals to effectively provide sexual and reproductive health information and services and for women to access those rights.

Rights bodies have urged the Government to comply with its human rights obligations to ensure sexual reproductive health and rights are respected, protected, and fulfilled.

This came as Catholic Church maintained a hardline stance on the sanctity of life, protection of children, and family as an inseparable unit saying bishops will defend the right to life by all means.

Bishop of the Diocese of Nakuru, Rev Maurice Muhatia yesterday said the church will advocate for the responsibility of the Ministry of Education to provide age appropriate and value based human sexuality to learners.

“The Catholic Bishops are concerned about the ongoing debate on the Reproductive healthcare Bill. Some sections of the Bill go against the Constitution in regard to right to life and protection of children and family,” said Muhatia, during the virtual mass at Holy Family Minor Basilica.

“We appreciate that the Senate has expressed openness to engage the church and we will seek to defend the right to life dignity of children and the family. We should be careful not to sell our country to masonries of anti-life,”

But human rights groups separately said much as they are not calling for abortion, sexual and reproductive health and rights are grounded in the Constitution.

The 25 groups, led by Reproductive Health Network Kenya Executive Director Nelly Munyasia, made the remarks as they urged Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai to investigate allegations of threats being issues against legislators for playing their role on Reproductive Healthcare Bill.

"We are concerned and condemn the threats being issued to Kenyans standing up in support of women and girls' sexual and reproductive health rights, including the right to access safe abortion as stipulated by the law," said Munyasia.

The human rights bodies also said they are alarmed by recent statement by religious, allied professional groups and individuals claiming that abortion is illegal in the country.

According to Munyasia, abortion is legal in the country to the extent permitted by law adding that the motive of threats being issued is to erode the gains as far as the human rights are concerned.

"The claims and threats are designed to stop full operationalization of the legal frameworks that grant these rights and in the process deny women their sexual reproductive health and access to information and services on the same, including safe abortion services," she added.

The groups want the Ministry of Health to ensure provision of accurate information on sexual and reproductive health and rights through an elaborate public education, sensitization and awareness program that will dispel myths and misconceptions.

“We appeal to Ministries of Education and Health to finalize, launch and implement a comprehensive curriculum on sexual and reproductive health and rights targeting in and out of school adolescents,” they added.

They said the Constitution is not self implementing noting that policy and legislation are required to be enacted to breath life into its provisions.

The group said currently there lacks comprehensive laws, regulations and guidelines to guide health professionals to effectively provide sexual and reproductive health information and services and for women to access those rights.

“We commend steps being taken to create a comprehensive legal framework and urge all of us to support Members of Parliament who are working to ensure women and girls reap the results of the constitutional order we fought for.”

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