Kenyan Human Rights Commission calls for ‘safe abortion,’ invoking new Constitution

The push for increased access to abortion in the wake of the passage of Kenya’s new Constitution confirms the worst fears of pro-life activists.
Thu Dec 8, 2011 - 6:13 pm EST

NAIROBI, Kenya, December 8, 2011 ( – The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) has called on the country’s government to introduce a codified syllabus on abortion procedures to be taught in the country’s medical schools, claiming that ambiguous abortion laws are the cause of training gaps in healthcare practitioners who lack expertise to terminate life in the womb.

“Curriculum in the medical training colleges and universities will also need to be reviewed to ensure abortion is taught,” says the KNCHR in a report released yesterday.

Kenya’s newly revised 2010 Constitution grants every person the “right to life,” noting that a person’s life “begins at conception.” It does not permit abortion except for “emergency treatment” or if the “health of the mother is in danger.”

The KNCHR report argues that since the constitution allows for abortion in certain circumstances, Kenyans have the right to information on “safe abortion” and the right to the procedure itself if the need meets the criteria.

Every person, the report argues, has the right to the “highest attainable standard of health, which includes the right to health care services, including reproductive health.” Reproductive health, says the report, includes “safe abortion” under the circumstances stipulated by the Constitution.

“The components that make up reproductive health include access to information on reproductive health services including information on safe abortion, freedom to determine the timing, number and spacing of children as well as contraceptives.”

The push for increased access to abortion in the wake of the passage of Kenya’s new Constitution confirms the worst fears of pro-life activists, who had encouraged Kenyans to reject the draft Constitution in last year’s referendum, over its language on abortion. They had warned that the vague “health of the mother” language would inevitably be used to create abortion on demand.

Kenya’s previous Constitution had only allowed an exception for abortion in cases where the mother’s life was at risk.

Pro-life activists and lawmakers had also heavily criticized the Obama administration for having spent millions supporting the new Constitution, a move that some U.S. congressmen contested violated the Siljander amendment, a statute that prohibits the federal government from lobbying for or against abortion with foreign aid funds.

Vice President Joe Biden had personally traveled to Kenya during the debate to urge the nation’s citizens to pass the Constitution, telling them their new Constitution would “allow money to flow” from foreign aid treasuries.

The recently released findings of a U.S. government investigation raised further suspicions that the Obama Administration essentially “hired surrogates” to push for abortion in Kenya during the critical battle over the country’s new Constitution.

The report by the Government Accountability Office revealed that the International Development Law Organization (IDLO), an Obama grantee in Kenya that received some $400,000 in U.S. funds, repeatedly pushed for liberalization of the government’s abortion laws during the country’s debate over the draft Constitution.

  abortion, kenya, obama