Abortion debate rages in Kenya

March 8, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 8 – Medical practitioners are urging those opposed to the proposed Constitution because of hard line positions on abortion to take consideration of pregnancy complications where doctors are allowed to save a mother’s life.

Dr Nehemiah Kimathi of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) says if the clause prohibiting all kinds of abortion is left to pass, it will lead to an increased number of deaths of mothers with pregnancy complications.

He said: “The inclusion of the clause will make life so difficult even in providing reproductive health services to the extent that in this country where we have made very good progress in the improvement of SRH programs,” he said.

He added: “This will drive us backwards, so that the gains we have made in terms of maternal health we could now slide backwards and get a little worse off than we are at this stage.” Dr Kimathi.

In an interview with Capital News, Dr Kimathi who is IPPF’s Technical Advisor on Safe Motherhood said healthcare providers will be left in a dilemma if such a clause is put in the constitution because doctors will be reluctant to attend to pregnancy complication-related cases for fear of being prosecuted for murder.

“So for me really is to plead with Members of Parliament to remove the clause from the constitution… the issue is not even legalising abortion.  Let’s leave abortion in the criminal code where it has been, not in the constitution,” he said.

“We plead with the members of parliament that we should remove the clause from the constitution, because it can be regulated by an Act of Parliament which is much easier to deal with,” he added.

Churches have vowed to lobby their followers to reject the proposed constitution unless an amendment is made, leading to Saturday’s remarks by Prime Minister Raila Odinga who urged church leaders to avoid scuttling the constitution-making process.


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