I’ll rally MPs to amend abortion clause, says Mugo
By Alex Ndegwa
Public Health Minister Beth Mugo has announced she would move an amendment to the contentious abortion clause in the Proposed Constitution in Parliament.
The minister said a meeting with religious leaders and ‘representatives of medical practitioners’ had agreed on the change to section 26(4) "that protects the rights of the unborn child, pregnant mothers and medical practitioners."
The proposed amendment crafted during the Wednesday meeting reads: "Termination of pregnancy is not permitted; however expectant mothers are entitled to emergency medical treatment."
Yesterday, the minister told reporters outside County Hall: "I will table this amendment in Parliament and rally MPs to have consensus on the revised clause."
Mugo said Dr SK Karanja of the Kenya Catholic Doctors Association and Dr Jean Kagia of Christian Medical Fellowship as well as the Ministry of Health Head of Family Health represented medics at the meeting.
The minister said the proposed change to the right to life section is a compromise for the Church and doctors who have differed on the issue.
But Dr Joachim Osur, a reproductive health expert, disowned the agreement saying it is not satisfactory. He said medical practitioners were not represented, as "they should be speaking with professional doctors association and the WHO."
Osur added: "Allowing emergency treatment does not mean a doctor will be allowed to terminate a problematic pregnancy and that leaves women in a precarious position."
He argued the definition ‘life begins at conception’ in the Proposed Constitution still technically outlaws some contraceptives adding "this will be a nightmare for women."
The current provision, which religious leaders protested legalised abortion, states: "Abortion is not permitted unless, in the opinion of a trained health professional, there is need for emergency treatment, or the life or the health of the mother is in danger, or if permitted by any other written law."
Mugo said Special Programmes Minister Naomi Shaban, MPs Mutava Musyimi (Gachoka) and Gideon Ndambuki (Kaiti) were in attendance.
Churches have vowed to shoot down the proposed constitution if the clause on abortion and another on the Kadhis courts are not amended.
For any amendment to pass, it has to be supported by two-thirds of all MPs (145 MPs).
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