“My bill does not recommend abortion as a solution to teen pregnancies. My bill recommends to at least help with the situation,” Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika has come out to defend the Reproductive Health care Bill 2019.
Speaking on Tuesday on Spice FM, the Senator argued that the bill would act as a stand-alone on matters reproductive healthcare since the constitution fails to explain more about it on grey matters.
“What drove me to come up with the bill was majorly to help couples that could not be able to conceive. I wanted to come up with a legislative framework that could bring in IVF and surrogacy. In my role as a representative of the people over time I have come across couples who could not get the services. Even though it is available, there are no laws that govern it and it is extremely expensive that only the very wealthy in the society are able to access,” said the senator.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 180 million couples in developing countries struggle due to infertility.
Here in Kenya, there is no elaborate data on infertility issues but in a study conducted by Kenyatta National Hospital, three-quarters of gynecological consultations are due to infertility.
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“In our African context, when a woman is not able to conceive they are looked down upon and seen as if the family is not complete. The naysayers and propagandists have now taken away the bill and called it abortion bill which is now about ending life yet my bill is about bringing life,” said Kihika.
According to Kihika, technology and Science enables Kenyans to access treatment from hospitals and there is no harm in using the same technology to help girls and women.
“In our public participation I talked to religious leaders and I reminded them that thousands of couples come to them for payers when they are unable to conceive or for whichever medical issue. Within our African context when two people get married and three years down the road are unable to conceive, then it becomes problematic,” said the Nakuru Senator.
She further added;
Despite abortion being illegal in the country, over the years, counterfeit drugs, quack doctors, pesticides among other quire methods have been the go-to options for women who want to end their pregnancies.
“If you look at Nairobi, there’s a lot of fertlity clinics but there is no single law in the books that govern how they carry out the services. I have come to learn that most of the services are accessed by foreigners and others because our local women are not able to access affordably,” added Kihika.
Religious leaders have poked holes in the Reproductive Health Bill 2019 with some even questioning the religious affiliation of the bill sponsor.
“I am a Christian and the context of the bill also accounts for our religious background. The bill also encourages abstinence but also offers counselling on the consequences of things like abortions. The constitution of Kenya gives certain exceptions to abortion,” reiterated the senator.
According to the senator, a lot of argument that has been propagated by “naysayers” comes from a point of lack of knowledge.
“This bill was first published in November 2019. The first reading was in Senate in February 2020, public participation came in March 2020 where all the stakeholders came in and brought their grievances. The second reading in the senate came in earlier June. It went through the process and senators voted for it. As we were heading to the third reading something just came up and now we are stuck.”
A report dubbed “The Costs of Treating Unsafe Abortion Complications in Public Health Facilities in Kenya” released in 2018 by the Ministry of Health shows that the treatment of unsafe abortions is costly to the public health system yet most of the cases end up in public facilities.
“In our African culture, we don’t speak of such topics that are seen as taboo. However, it is a reality that is happening within us. We don’t want to talk about it but this bill does not promote sex in underage children,” added Senator Kihika.
Even as different factions of Kenyans bend on either side towards the bill, Nakuru senator has vowed to continue with public education to popularise the bill.
“Nobody is sponsoring this bill and I have not received a penny for this bill it is Susan Kihika behind the bill. It is a hard bill but with purpose that addresses issues.”