On April 1 the Parliament of Kenya approved a Draft Constitution that, with approval by popular vote, will become the new highest law of the land, giving more power to the people, protecting more rights, and limiting the power of the government. All together it would promise greater peace and security for the citizens of Kenya. This should be reason to celebrate. There is only one catch. In a country resoundingly pro-life, the new constitution also includes the promise of an unlimited right to abortion.
Kenya, like most African countries, is overwhelmingly pro-life and pro-family. According to a study by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Global Outreach, 77% of all Kenyans believe life begins at conception . This overwhelming support for life is enshrined in Section 26 of the draft, which reads: “Every person has a right to life, and that life begins at conception.” Organizations around the world have been battling against insurmountable odds to have similar language included in their own constitutions to no avail. Yet, there it is in the Kenyan constitution seemingly without objection or limitation””that is until you reach the next section.
In direct contradiction to the bold declaration of life in the previous section, Section 27 undermines life and protects the right to 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.” This language not only reverses previous national policies on abortion, but opens wide the door for easy and eventually open legalization of abortion.
As Don Feder, communication director of World Congress of Families points out, “An exception to a ban on abortion ‘for the health of the mother’ is virtually abortion on demand. You can always find an obliging ‘health professional’ who will certify that any condition would endanger a woman’s health unless the pregnancy is terminated. That’s how the mother’s-health exception works in the US.”
Feder is correct. Unbeknownst to most Americans, it was similar language in the United States Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade and follow-up court decisions, that forced the United States to eventual adopt some of the most liberal abortion laws in the world.
The promise of legalized abortion is further strengthened in Article 43, which guarantees everyone the right to proper health care services, including reproductive health care. And as U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton so willingly clarified for the world , “reproductive health” means “access to safe, legal abortion.”
It may seem like overstatement to say that such seemingly innocuous words guarantee future legalization of abortion, but international precedent has already been set that these words mean the right to abortion. In fact, there is no disagreement on either side of the Kenya debate that these words promise legal abortion.
What went wrong?
So how did it happen? How could a country that values life so blatantly undermine it? How could a society demonstrate such mental and moral dissonance in its very constitution?
Simple””innocence. The people were seeking only to secure their rights and defend life and liberty but were unwillingly and unknowingly drawn into the corrupt realm of abortion politics. Pro-abortion forces pushed the language into the draft, hoping that the people of Kenya, unaware of the politics behind each and every word, would continue to believe that a word means simply what a words means.
The two provisions sound morally “right.” No one wants to demand a woman deliver a child when it threatens her life. No one wants to deny any woman health care, particularly pregnant women in need of health care. That is what reproductive health services is, isn’t it?
Fortunately, pro-life and religious organizations in Kenya do understand what this language really means for the life of the unborn and are fighting it. But the fight comes too late. Now that the constitution has been passed by parliament, they have only three options: 1. Pass the constitution as is and open the door for unlimited abortion, 2. Reject the desperately needed constitution and begin again, or 3. Pass it with a legally weak Memorandum of Understanding stating that the abortion language does not mean what everyone knows it to mean.
This is not a choice. Whatever path they choose, the people of Kenya lose. They either defend the rights of the unborn or secure national stability and the rights of the people through a new constitution. It is an impossible choice, no country should have to make.
Although the fight in Kenya is not through yet, there is already a lesson to be learned: arrive to the fight early and fight harder. As those who support life and value the family, we need to be vigilant in watching our communities, our countries and our neighbors so that we can be there when the battle is beginning , when there is still time to stop the opposition.
At United Families International, this is what we strive to do, but we can’t do it without your eyes and ears. Please get involved wherever you are. We need you to know when and where the work against life and the family is beginning, be it in your city hall, your legislature, or in drafting a constitution of a country. If we work together, we can build an international network committed to the values of life and family and we can prevent the story of Kenya from ever repeating. We may lack the international resources and funding that the pro-abortion lobbyists have, but if we speak together our voices can still be heard.
Kenya will vote on the Draft Constitution in July. The fight between now and then will be difficult, but there is still time to make the right choice and defend life. No one should be forced to choose between the political stability of a constitution and the life of the unborn.
These are the type of battles that United Families International actively engages in. It is important to have national chapters in countries around the world so that we can influence, through the people of each country, their domestic political systems to the benefit of family and the protection of life. It an expensive prospect to keep a chapter in an impoverished nation like Kenya functioning. Unlike pro-abortion advocates who are supported by the national treasuries of the United States, the European Union countries, and many United Nations programs, we are reliant upon the dedicated generosity of grassroots pro-life, pro-family, advocates like you. Won’t you please help us to save the lives of millions of unborn Kenyans by assisting in the global efforts to help Kenya develop a badly needed constitution that protects all life? United Families will speak for you. Won’t you please take the extraordinary step of assisting us with a significant financial contribution of $25, $50, $100, $500, or even $1000 today?