, 23 September, 2020 / 9:10 PM
Catholic Bishops in Kenya have told members of the country’s Senate Committee for Health that the controversial Reproductive Healthcare Bill 2019 “is inconsistent with the constitution” and needs to be withdrawn from the house “because it cannot be redeemed.”
In a Wednesday, September 23 report detailing what the members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) presented to the Senators in a virtual session on September 21, the Bishops state that the Bill is “unconstitutional” and give reasons for this conclusion.
“While stating that her concerns about the Bill are based on the fact that the Bill is proposing serious moral issues that touch on the right to life, dignity of every human person, integrity of the family and upbringing of children, the Catholic Church under the aegis of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) says that the bill is unconstitutional,” the Bishops’ report shared with ACI Africa indicates.
During the September 21 session with the members of the Health Committee of the Senate, the Director of the National Canon Law Office of KCCB, Fr. Ferdinand Lugonzo who tabled the Bishops’ memorandum told the Senators that the “Bill is inconsistent with the constitution which, embraces the dignity and right to life that starts at conception and ends with natural death.”
Fr. Lugonzo further said that “the right to life and to human dignity cannot be separated and divided into vague forms of rights.”
He quoted sections 18, 23 through 30 of the proposed Bill saying they sanction the killing of the unborn and that the Bill “proposes abortion practices contrary to articles 26(2) of the Constitution of Kenya,” the September 23 report by the leadership of KCCB indicates.
The Bill “presupposes a nebulous set of rights called reproductive rights that undermine the right to life protected under article 26(1) of the Constitution of Kenya,” Fr. Lugonzo told the members of the Senate Committee for Health in Kenya.
The Reproductive Healthcare Bill No. 23 of 2019, which is currently before Kenya’s Senate, advocates for “Legal and Accessible Safe Abortion,” adolescent-friendly “Family Planning” services, surrogacy, test-tube babies as well as Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE).
Some of these provisions that the Bill advocates for featured prominently during the controversial International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD25).
The Bill has also been opposed by 26 Pro-life Groups in Kenya as well as the Government through the Ministry of Health.
In making his case to the members of the Senate Committee, Fr. Lugonzo said that the Bishops in Kenya are opposed to the Bill because it also “downgrades the life of a woman as it creates a gap in law for any person with knowledge on health matters to facilitate abortion, yet ordinary medical surgical procedures are always recommended by qualified medical doctors.”
“This Bill devalues the sanctity of life by disqualifying the constitutional, moral and scientific position that life begins at conception and ends with natural death by attempting to redefine when life begins,” the Director of the National Canon Law Office of KCCB who is a Cleric of Kenya’s Kakamega Diocese told Senators.
Regarding assisted reproduction, which the controversial Bill advocates for, Fr. Lugonzo indicated that in the process “thousands of fertilized eggs (embryos) are discarded before implantation” and that “this is actually abortion and the denial of a right to life and human dignity.”
“This devaluation is discriminative in design and can be a source to punish and coerce health professional to go against their conscience to conduct abortions, thus limiting one’s freedom of conscience as protected by the Constitution of Kenya,” Fr. Lugonzo told the Senators.
The Bill, he went on to say, “shall distinctly confuse the minds of children and society to go against the very right which promises to protect the family for the benefit of the present and future generations through legislative avenues.”
For the Bishops in Kenya, Fr. Lugonzo said, the Bill “encourages eugenics, that is, selective breeding of the human population. In this way, the bill seeks to give way for aborting babies with disabilities and special needs.”
Selective breeding, Fr. Lugonzo told the members of the Senate Committee for Health, “is an evil that was condemned in 1945 during the establishment of the United Nations and outlawed by the Nuremberg Trials.”
As a way forward, the Bishops in Kenya want the Senators to withdraw the Bill from the house.
Fr. Lugonzo explained, “Given that abortion and the science of eugenics have been found to be crimes against human, and with the other reasons explained above, the Catholic Church in Kenya has voted a big NO to the bill and asked the Senate to withdraw it because it cannot be redeemed.”
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ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa