The Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues (PNCI) reports that the process for constitutional reform in Kenya is nearing final action in the Parliament and is likely to open the floodgates to abortion on demand if not amended. The long awaited final draft of a new constitution has been submitted by the Committee of Experts to the Parliamentary Select Committee tasked with oversight of the new constitution.
According to PNCI Director, Marie Smith (Wife of Congressman Chris Smith), "Regrettably, this final draft contains some of the most deceptive and dangerous language on abortion ever seen in a constitution. It presents constitutional protection for the unborn child by acknowledging in section 26 on Right to Life that "Every person has the right to life" and that "The life of a person begins at conception."
"However, the next statement completely reverses protection for the unborn by allowing abortion when 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."
Smith continues, "The reversal of previous policy on abortion- which required the opinion of two medical doctors who agreed that abortion was necessary for the life of the mother- will likely open the door to abortion on demand if the broad US definition of health is used in Kenya.
"The change in law and policy to allow non-physician abortion also opens the door to distribution by health care workers of the abortion-inducing drug misoprostol for use by women at home. This abortion method is increasingly used by NGOs despite its serious complications which include blood loss, the leading cause of maternal deaths in Africa."
Of additional concern is the creation in the constitution of the Kenya National Human Rights and Equality Commission to "act as the principal organ of the State in ensuring compliance with obligations under treaties and conventions relating to human rights." Smith sees such actions as attempts to usurp the authority and power of the Parliament to set law and policy on abortion as determined by the population conference at Cairo.
According to Smith, "There is absolutely no universal right to abortion and abortion is not a human right. The world rejected such beliefs at Cairo and clearly stated so in the Program of Action- "Any measures or changes related to abortion within the health system can only be determined at the national or local level according to the national legislative process." However, anti-life activists falsely interpret UN treaties and conventions to pressure countries to change their pro-life laws. Such a Commission as proposed in this draft constitution, if composed of abortion agitators, could impose pro-abortion actions on Kenya."
PNCI is hopeful that the Kenyan Parliament will reject the pro-abortion language submitted by the Committee of Experts and return to the pro-life language originally placed in the draft constitution by the Parliamentary Select Committee.
Smith explains, "The Committee of Experts took the draft constitution that the freely elected members of Parliament serving on the Parliamentary Select Committee had harmonized from various submissions and reversed the intent of the lawmakers to protect the right to life from conception-creating total disharmony. This appointed Committee of Experts includes ardent abortion activists from both inside and outside Kenya who are intent on advancing global abortion on demand."
"It is now up to the entire Kenyan Parliament to hold firm to authentic African values which revere the family and instill those principles in the constitution to ensure that unborn children and their mothers are protected from the violence of abortion."
Pro-life advocates, including medical and religious coalitions, are preparing to lobby the Parliament to amend the draft to ensure that it continues long-standing Kenyan respect for life and prohibition of abortion. The draft is expected to be filed in Parliament by March 7 for further discussion, debate and vote before it is presented for a referendum in July.
The draft constitution can be read at the website of the Committee of Experts.