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Why the Reproductive Health Bill must be aborted

By David Oginde | June 29th 2014 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

One can only hope that the furore that has greeted the Bill sponsored by nominated Senator Judith Sijeny has served as a clear indication to all and sundry that even though our morality as Kenyans has gone far south, it is not because we have totally lost touch with our collective conscience.

Like a drunken parent, we may not have control over our own passions, but we sure do know what is good for our children. It is therefore most unfortunate that those who we have charged with the honorable responsibility of creating an environment that can help us overcome our weaknesses, should abuse such honour and instead push even the most innocent of us into the mucky ditch.

It beats natural logic that if one of your children has been stealing the neighbour’s mangoes, you should then buy bulletproof vests for the whole family! You would inadvertently be communicating to the family, and especially to the children, that stealing is fine provided you stay safe. Really!

Yet this is perhaps the only plausible reason that can explain how honourable senators can even countenance a Bill that offers adolescents access to reproductive health services, including abortion on request, without parental consent.

What’s more, the Bill expressly provides that a person who possesses such information by virtue of the Bill must not divulge it. Parents are thus excluded from any decisions made between their underage children and the health providers.

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This is not only cheeky, but is also totally contrary to the Children’s Act which recognises the pivotal role of parental care and responsibility, including the duty to give parental guidance on matters medical, religious, moral, social, and cultural.

In their presentation, the Kenya Christian Professionals Fellowship (KCPF) observed, and rightly so, that the non-disclosure of information regarding children also exposes them to unnecessary risk, especially since the Bill is unclear on whether the option of termination of pregnancy is also available to adolescents, or only to ‘women’ as captured in the Bill.

This obviously raises the concern as to who bears the risk should any medical procedure, whose details are not disclosed, go wrong; and what redress parents would have in such circumstances.

Interestingly, as pointed out by some sober lawyers, the Bill in its current state even purports to oust the legal force, not only of crucial Acts of Parliament such as the Sexual Offences Act and the Children’s Act, but also of the Constitution of the land. Indeed the Reproductive Health Care Bill, 2014 provides in section 51 that: “Where the provisions of this Act or any regulation made hereunder are inconsistent with the provisions of any other written law, the provisions of this Act shall prevail.” That is indeed audacious!

But that is not all, the Bill provides in section 50 that: “Any person who is aggrieved by any decision made under this Act or Regulations made hereunder may make a reference to the Tribunal established under section 41.”

One only hopes that the said tribunal will not be populated with ideologically friendly individuals.

Indeed as pointed out by KCPF, the proposed Reproductive and Child Health Care Board conveniently leaves out representation from key stakeholders such as parents associations, religious organisations, medical training institutions, and health care providers.

I may be paranoid, but my antennas go wild when I see such proposals. It is a fact that Kenya, and indeed Africa, has become a lab for testing repugnant western ideologies that go against the grain of natural and cultural order. We have become a ready market for exporting toxic schemes designed to undermine social order and overthrow age-old cultural and natural values. And because the schemes come fully funded, the exporters know that Kenyans have no difficulty selling poison to their fellow Kenyans.

After all, that is what our merchants of lethal brews do all the time. Thus even for these lethal schemes, enterprising and conscience-dead Kenyans readily throw caution to the wind and trade our birthright for a bowl of soup.

When at the 2010 referendum the Church and other like-minded Kenyans took a “No” stand against the then proposed constitution, key among our concerns was the matter about the loopholes that could be used for the legalisation of abortion. The other side assured us that the Constitution expressly prohibits abortion. It does appear that our fears were not without merit.

The current Bill seeks to exploit such loopholes and is a spirited attempt to introduce abortion in a manner that camouflages wilful termination of pregnancy with many peripheral issues but whose overall effect on society cannot be ignored.

It is clear that the spirit, ideology and thinking behind this Bill goes against the social, cultural, moral and spiritual fundamentals of the Kenyan society as a whole. The best we can do is to abort it.

Judith Sijeny David Ogiende Reproductive Health Bill
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