A poll conducted by Ipsos MORI which found that 85% of Kenyans are pro-life has not dissuaded pro-abortion groups from attempting to force the country into changing its abortion laws. Since Kenya is one of the most populous countries in Africa, as well as one of the wealthiest, the influential role the country plays in the East African region has made it a key target of abortion organizations. Since former Vice President Joe Biden has announced that part of his administrative agenda will be to resume the United State’s support of abortions internationally, the number of outside countries and organizations exerting their influence over Kenya is likely to increase.
Opposition to Kenya Signing the Geneva Consensus Declaration
Recently, the United States joined several countries to virtually celebrate the signing of the Geneva Consensus Declaration on Promoting Women’s Health and Strengthening Family. Kenya was among several countries that had already signed the Declaration, which states that “every human being has the inherent right to life,” and that “it is the sovereign right of every nation to make their own laws in regard to abortion, absent external pressure.”
Kenya’s signing of this document has been met with criticism from pro-abortion groups looking to promote abortion as ‘human rights’ within the country. The Kenya Legal and Ethical Issues Network (KLEIN) is one of 20 organizations pressuring the Kenyan government to formally withdraw from the agreement, knowing this move would send a message that Kenya intends to reverse its pro-life stance.
“The document totally undermines the mandate and ability of the United Nations to develop harmonized policies that advance desirable human rights documents,” said Linda Kroeger, a program officer at KLEIN. “By demanding states be allowed to fashion their own abortion laws, it will encourage states notorious for human rights violations to fashion punitive laws against women.”
KLEIN believes Kenya must have unrestricted abortion to protect women from undergoing dangerous illegal abortions. This is not the first time abortion organizations have relied on falsehoods to push their agenda. As Kenya’s senate once again considers a “reproductive health” bill, abortion advocates like the Center for Reproductive Rights have promoted a 1998 study to falsely claim 35% of maternal deaths in Kenya are caused by “unsafe abortions.” These claims were disputed by an inquiry into maternal deaths from the country’s health ministry, but false studies have never dissuaded abortion groups’ efforts to persuade countries to change their pro-life laws.
Stealth Approaches From Abortion Groups
When pro-abortion organizations are not being outright deceptive, quite often they rely on underhanded tactics to slowly influence countries like Kenya toward their point of view. Global abortion providers like Marie Stopes International (MSI) and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) originally dispensed contraception before expanding their work. Groups like Ipas have been less subtle about their intentions, as they were founded to distribute abortion devices. What these organizations have in common is the way they are carefully attempting to reduce Kenya’s political opposition to abortion.
Ipas has even openly stated it “prides itself on its work with national authorities to advocate for policy change” while MSI “is recognized for its private sector service provision and its ‘advocacy by doing’ approach.” Evidently, this appears to have had an effect on Kenya’s policies. Back in 2013, Kenya’s Ministry of Health launched the first edition of its Patients’ Rights Charter, in which two Ipas employees were listed as part of the Patients’ Rights Charter Secretariat.
While the charter does not openly mention abortion, it comes close to it by declaring every patient has a right to health care, which “shall include promotive, preventive, curative, reproductive, rehabilitative, and palliative care.”
Abortion advocates have also successfully exploited an abortion exception within Kenya’s constitution, which was updated in 2010. The document clearly states [t]he life of a person begins at conception” and “[a]bortion is not permitted unless, in the opinion of a trained health professional, there is need for emergency treatment, or the life or health of the mother is in danger, or if permitted by any other written law.”
As Live Action News has previously reported, abortion is never medically necessary. In November 2018, the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board banned MSI after they advertised abortions for reasons other than the ones stated in Kenya’s constitution. A health cabinet secretary would lift the ban a month later after MSI submitted a letter promising not to commit abortions “on demand” and agreed to routine compliance checks.
Meanwhile, Ipas continues to work behind the scenes by fostering relationships with political figures and building trust in their organization by funding non-abortion related projects. In addition to the Patients’ Rights Charter, Ipas has received credit for supporting the Kenyan government by generating a guidelines for reducing mortality rates from “unsafe” abortions. By framing their work in the context of reproductive health, abortion groups are slowly unraveling challenges to abortion policies.
Abortion a Human Right?
Even the United Nations has attempted to force Kenya to decriminalize abortion. The Maputo Protocol, also known as the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, is said to be “the only legally binding human rights instrument that explicitly addresses abortion as a human right.” It says:
States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to […] protect the reproductive rights of women by authorising medical abortion in cases of sexual assault, rape, incest, and where the continued pregnancy endangers the mental and physical health of the mother or the life of the mother or the foetus.
All of these forces against Kenya’s pro-life laws are proof that even if the current “reproductive health” bill being considered by Kenya’s parliament fails, there will be more attempts to permit abortion on demand in the country against the wishes of a majority of people in Kenya.
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