Abortion legislation in Kenya has been put on hold because of pressure from pro-life campaigners.
The Reproductive Health Bill 2019 permits abortion up to birth, extends it to adolescents, and threatens health care professionals with a prison sentence if they fail to refer an eligible woman for an abortion.
But following public pressure, the committee examining the Bill has said all debate will be temporarily stopped until “all the contentious issues were resolved through public participation”. The delay is expected to last at least three months.
‘Abortion hurts women’
The campaign against the proposed law was led by Ann Kioko, a community worker who has counselled women who have had abortions.
She says: “This other side of abortion is not talked about. Abortion hurts women.”
Kioko recently launched a campaign against the Bill, including a petition which has gathered more than 26,000 signatures.
This other side of abortion is not talked about. Abortion hurts women.
She does not believe the Bill reflects “the values held by the majority of Kenyans” but cautioned that the delay was only “a half victory for pro-lifers”.
‘Right to life’
Speaking at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in 2019, Kioko explained that “abortion doesn’t lead to empowerment”.
She said instead, women “need fully equipped health centres, they need good schools, they need clothing, they need food on their tables”.
The pro-life campaigner is also concerned that the abortion Bill attempts to legalise sex education, which she says advocates “homosexuality for children, masturbation and even sexualization of children”.
Chris Wamalwa, a Kenyan MP, has also spoken out against the proposed legislation. Standing outside the Kenyan Parliament in Nairobi, he said: “Life begins at conception and every human being deserves the right to life.”