The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) have condemned the country’s proposed Reproductive Health Bill as unconstitutional.
The Bill which is currently before the Senate creates a controversial new framework for Article 26 of Kenya’s Constitution, which currently limits abortions to cases of medical emergency.
Critics of the bill, such as the Citizen Go international pro-life campaign group, have argued that the new legislation “seeks to interpret Article 26 of the Bill of Rights by trying to make [it] friendly to abortionists and those that seek abortion on demand.”
Speaking on behalf of the Catholic bishops at Sunday Mass on July 5, Bishop Maurice Muhatia of Nakuru echoed these concerns. He argued that the Bill contravenes the right to life protections enshrined in the Constitution and said that the Kenyan bishops will accept the invitation to argue this case before the Senate.
“In our engagement with the Senate we shall seek to defend the right to life, the dignity of children and of family as an inseparable unit; we shall also advocate for the Ministry of Education and the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development to provide value based human sexuality to learners,” Bishop Muhatia said. “We should be careful not to sell our country for 20 cents to mercenaries of anti-life.”
Another controversial component of the Bill is its focus on the provision of reproductive health services and education for minors aged between 10 and 17 years of age. The Bill requires national and local government to provide contraceptives to adolescents and give them information on reproductive services without parental consent protections. The government will integrate these measures with a new comprehensive sex education syllabus designed to provide “age-appropriate” information on reproductive health.
But Bishop Muhatia argued that the term “age-appropriate” as it is used in the Bill is ineffective in protecting children from exposure to explicit and ideologically corrosive sex education.
“We call upon Christians and people of goodwill to stand up and defend the family unit, dignity of our children, the positive values of our people and our identities as Kenyans,” Bishop Muhatia said. “We shall advocate for the responsibility of the Ministry of Education through the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) to provide age-appropriate and value-based human sexuality education to learners.”
Advocates of the Bill have cited a recent nationwide study by Kenya Health Information Systems which found that more than 150,000 Kenyan girls aged 10-19 have become pregnant during the recent pandemic-related school closures.
In response to the study, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops released a statement saying that they remain “totally opposed to those trying to introduce comprehensive sexual education in schools as a way of curbing teenage pregnancies.”
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.