Catholic Bishops in Kenya Say Sexual Bill Risks Creating “amorphous field of rights”

Members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB). Credit: KCCB

Members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) have called on legislators at the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) to withdraw the Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) Bill 2017 from the floor of the house noting that the proposed legislation is an attempt to give rise to unclear rights on sexual issues.  

In a Tuesday, November 9 letter addressed to EALA Speaker, Hon. Martin Ngoga, the Bishops say the proposed law is a re-introduction of the controversial Reproductive Health Bill that was rejected by Kenyans for attempting to legalize abortion. 

If signed into law, the Bill will take effect in the East African Community (EAC) member nations: Tanzania, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Uganda.

“Guided by Article 26 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010, we maintain that the Bill as presented is an attempt to engender an amorphous field of rights referred to as ‘reproductive rights’ contrary to the Right to Life as protected and guaranteed by our Constitution,” KCCB members say.

Considering that life is sacred, starting at conception and ending with natural death, the Catholic Bishops in Kenya say, “no legislation should support or promote any form of termination of life, but rather seek to ensure the sanctity of life.”


“We disregard and reject the contents of this Bill ‘in toto’ and appeal to the Assembly not to let the Bill be enacted into Law,” they say in the letter signed by KCCB Chairman, Archbishop Martin Kikuva Musonde of Mombasa Archdiocese. 

The EALA SRHR includes, among other issues, the legalization of abortion where pregnancy endangers the mother’s health and life and the teaching of the Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) for persons between the age of 10 and 19 years. 

In the November 9 letter, Catholic Bishops in Kenya say the CSE, which they have previously campaigned against, “is a contributor to the high rates of teenage pregnancies and abortion.”

“This is attributable to its (CSE) failure to establish abstinence as the expected standard for all children. It presents abortion as a safe or positive option while omitting data on the many potential negative physical and mental health consequences,” they say in the statement that has also been copied to the Speakers of Kenya’s Senate and National Assembly.

Also copied are Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Affairs and International Trade and the Chairman of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA), Bishop Charles Kasonde of Zambia’s Solwezi Diocese.

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KCCB members add that CSE also seeks to “lead children to focus on unhelpful sexual behavior at the expense of education and life goals.”

On CSE, the Catholic Bishops in Kenya say their position “is to focus on what imparts knowledge, values and life skills into our children and moulds them for a better tomorrow.”

In February this year, the SRHR Bill was withdrawn from EALA to pave the way for the Committee on General Purpose to re-draft the proposed law afresh. 

The decision to re-draft the Bill was reached after EALA members identified areas of contention, including the failure to align with domestic laws of some member nations and the varying understanding of the term ‘abortion services’ in the EAC region. 

EALA members have been conducting consultative meetings with stakeholders on the SRHR in the EAC member states.


Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.