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Don't allow rape victims to abort, says Catholic doctors

Health & Science

Stephene Kimotho in the witnes dock at a Milimani high court . He was a witness for catholic doctors association during a hearing of a case on whether to re introduce guildlines on safe abortion . 12/6/2018 [Photo: George Njunge /standard]

The Catholic Doctors Association has defended the church’s stand on abortion, arguing that women who conceive after being raped should not abort.

The doctors further argue that abortion should not be allowed, even in emergency situations where the mother’s life is in danger.

Stephen Kimotho Karanja told a five-judge bench of the High Court that the only way to help a rape victim was to punish the rapist.

“A woman who has been raped and impregnated has been dangerously humiliated and you cannot humiliate her again by subjecting her to abortion, which is like a second rape. You cannot kill the baby because the father is a rapist or punish a child because of the rapist father’s sins,” said Dr Karanja.

He said as professional doctors from the Catholic Church, members of the association had attended to a number of women who fell pregnant after rape ordeals but advised them against abortion.

The gynaecologist proposed that in the event of rape, the woman should be counseled to keep the child after delivery or give it up for adoption instead of terminating the pregnancy.

He was testifying in case in which the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA-Kenya), Centre for Reproductive Rights and three women are seeking to compel the Government to provide guidelines and policies on safe abortion to protect the rights of women and adolescent girls.

The petitioners claimed that the case was not seeking to legalise abortion but to enforce the rights of women who conceive unwanted pregnancies and who have a right to life and to procure safe, legal abortion services.

They are blaming the Ministry of Health for withdrawing a policy guideline on safe abortions and for stopping the training of health practitioners on safe abortions, which they said went against the Government’s obligation to provide high health standards for women and adolescent girls.

“Denying a woman access to critical healthcare she needs can lead to devastating consequences in her life, her family and her community. It is time the Government took action to protect the health, lives, families, and future of women,” said Evelyne Opondo, the regional director for Africa at the Centre for Reproductive Rights.

But Dr Karanja swore that the contested guidelines on safe abortion were unconstitutional and should not have been published in the first place.

He told Judges Aggrey Muchelule, George Odunga, Mumbi Ngugi, Lydiah Achode and John Mativo the association withdrew from talks that came up with the document after realising it would entrench abortion.

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