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05 / 08 / 2010 - Pro-Abortion Constitution Passes in Kenya, Opponents Seek Amendments
RELATED STORY: Precious Life is currently battling abortion guidelines in Northern Ireland, which contains similar pro-abortion code language as in the proposed constitution for Kenya. The Northern Ireland Department of Health are also wrongly implying that their guidelines will not legalise abortions. These guidelines allow abortion 'where the life or health of the woman is in danger.' The guidelines' broad definitions of the words "life" and "health" effectively mean abortion on demand. Both the Northern Ireland guidelines and proposed Kenyan constitution contain no meaningful restrictions on abortion, but the guidelines are even worse because they contain no recognition of the right to life from conception ...read more
With more than 70 percent of the vote counted, residents of Kenya appear to have approved a new constitution that would essentially allow unlimited abortions. Kenya has long protected women and unborn children but the zeal for a new constitution overtook concerns about preventing abortions.
The Yes campaign on the constitution prevailed on a 69 to 31 percentage point margin over the No campaigners who were led in part by pro-life advocates and churches.
Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki on Thursday hailed the vote but promised opponents that their "voice has been heard" and appealed for national unity.
"Let us all join hands together to begin the process of national renewal under the new constitution," he said, according to the dpa news agency.
Higher Education Minister William Ruto, one of the leaders of the No camp, conceded defeat but he also called for government leaders to allow amendments to the document.
"Kenyans have spoken and we respect that," Ruto said. "[The] majority had their way, we had our say. Now that Kenyans have endorsed that we pass, we are now proposing immediate consultations. We want to be part of taking Kenya to the future."
"It is not only necessary, it is mandatory," he said of addressing the concerns of the minority.
Meanwhile, dpa indicated Kenya Christian Church leaders said in a statement that they are upset by the process leading to the vote on the constitution. They, too, are seeking amendments that would nullify the clause legalizing abortions.
"We are saddened by the fact that the pre-referendum process was marked by malpractices and irregularities which continued right into the balloting and tallying phases," they said. "This calls into question the validity of the process and its outcome."
"The results do not nullify our concerns," they said.
Bishop Cornelius Korir said the church would continue to press the government on abortion to ensure it is not legalized.
The Obama administration, through State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, hailed the vote.
"This is an important step toward strengthening democratic institutions in Kenya," Crowley said, according to the Associated Press.
Leading pro-life and church groups both in Kenya and across the world, tried to educate voters that the new constitution would allow abortions.
“Many in the media are falsely reporting that the new constitution would not allow abortion except 'where the life of the mother is in danger,'"Jeanne Head, the National Right to Life Vice President for International Affairs, told LifeNews.com. “The truth is actually the opposite.”
The language in the proposed constitution does not contain any meaningful restrictions on abortion, despite recognition of the right to life from conception.
Instead, Section 26 contains language which allows abortion when 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."
Head says this is a reversal of previous Kenyan law on abortion which required the opinion of two medical doctors who were in agreement that an abortion was necessary to save the life of the mother. She said the newly-proposed broad “health” exceptions in the proposed constitution would essentially mean abortion on demand.
Meanwhile, members of Congress in the United States have spoken out against the Obama administration's spending $23 million supporting the pro-abortion constitution.
USAID has reported spending at least $23 million to promote the proposed constitution. The lawmakers questioned the legality of the spending, since current U.S. law bars funding to either advocate either for or against abortion, and the proposed document dramatically changes existing Kenyan abortion laws.
Even if the constitution is ultimately approved, voters will likely have cast ballots for it but not because they favor abortions.
A poll conducted March 21–26 by the polling firm Synovate, formerly known as Steadman, shows the citizens of Kenya are overwhelmingly pro-life.
“Thinking about abortion, which of the following is closest to your view?” the firm asked respondents.
Some 69 percent of Kenya residents are against legalizing abortions while just 9 percent support it. Another 16 percent say it doesn't matter while 6 percent said they had no opinion.
Answering the question, “When do you believe human life begins?” 77 percent of Kenyans stated that life begins at conception, while 19 percent stated that human life begins at the time of birth.
Respondents were also asked about their views concerning the new Kenyan Constitution and the question found only 19 percent support it as currently written, while a majority, 52 percent, want Parliament to revise the document before passage.
Scott Fischbach, the director of MMCL Go, an international pro-life outreach, provided the polling results to LifeNews.com.
"Currently, advocates of abortion are using the issue of maternal mortality and illegal abortions to argue for legalization of the procedure. However, the answer to illegal abortions and high maternal mortality rates is very simple: provide hope, opportunity and support for pregnant women by insuring a clean water supply, clean blood supply and adequate health care," he said.
"Kenya is a pro-life country and ought not to head toward an abortion-on-demand policy in its new Constitution," he added.
Source: Steven Ertelt - LifeNews.com Editor