NAIROBI, Kenya (ChurchMilitant.com) - Kenyan bishops are taking a firm stand in a face-off with pro-abortion lobbyists pushing for an expanded "reproductive health care" bill in the East African nation.
The Reproductive Health Bill, 2020 proposes to expand current Article 26 (4) of the Kenyan Constitution, which allows for abortion only in a medical emergency.
Though the measure has evoked mixed reactions generally, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) has come down hard against it.
In a statement issued on June 23, KCCB spokesperson Bp. Philip Anyolo said, "We cannot remain silent before issues that concern life."
"We are called by our faith and our African cultural background to protect life and also the life of the unborn," he said.
The bishops said they were also called by the teaching of the Catholic Church, which "has never wavered" on this matter. "The life of the unborn is human life while its termination is homicide," they made clear.
The bishops called out the "deliberately ambivalent and misleading" language of the bill, which hides the scope of the lobbyists' agenda.
"It speaks of sexual and reproductive health and rights, when for a fact it simply wishes to introduce in Kenya unhealthy practices [that] encompass controversial sexual and abortion rights, including for young children," the bishops said.
According to lobbyists touting the measure:
This bill is not just abortion, it is a comprehensive reproductive bill. This will help people have families that they want and they need. This bill also has information of contraceptives and family planning. This bill has access for reproductive health for people with disability who have all along been left out.
The bishops countered such claims by urging government officials "to reflect upon the consequences this bill will have on the moral fabric of the nation." They appealed to members of Parliament and senators "to interpret the will of the people to promote life and not death."
The bishops also issued strong words in a statement read during Sunday Masses on July 5.
Speaking on behalf of his brother bishops, Bp. Maurice Muhatia confirmed that they will speak to the Senate and "use the opportunity to champion for matters pertaining to defense of the family and the rights of the children."
"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," he said. "We shall also advocate for the Ministry of Education and the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development to provide value-based human sexuality to learners."
Backers of the bill, including abortion lobbyists — in particular, the Center for Reproductive Rights, a pro-abortion global legal network — put forth their arguments.
Center for Reproductive Rights' Senior Regional Director Evelyne Opondo said the bill, "will aid in curbing the rising rate of teenage pregnancies," claiming that in Kenya, "young girls are stigmatized and they cannot access the services when they visit health centers."
"If we make all this options available and provide this information, then we are not going to have to deal with [unsafe] abortion cases and teenage pregnancies in this country," she said.
Echoing Opondo, Network for Adolescence and Youth of Africa representative Arthur Wekesa said: "It is important that young people are given comprehensive sexuality education so that they are able to make informed choices, and then the parents can be able to continue with this process at the household level."
Opondo objected to pro-life advocates who are "moralizing the whole issue" and expressed frustration that religious institutions that own many schools are thwarting efforts to integrate the proposal's syllabus on reproductive health.
But Bp. Muhatia issued words of caution to those considering support of the bill: "We should be careful not to sell our country for 20 cents to mercenaries of anti-life."
Muhatia's word of caution resonates with the growing awareness of global "anti-life mercenaries," which, representing powerful western pro-abortion lobbies, interfere in local and national matters.
Nigerian-born, pro-life, pro-family advocate Obianuju Ekeocha has noted how powerful global "purse strings of foreign aid" can be.
In her book Target Africa: Ideological Neo-Colonialism Of The Twenty-First Century, Ekeocha points to an "ideological colonization" playing out in African states.
She explains how wealthy, Western "progressive" donors promise gifts to Africa in exchange for adopting their ideology of sexual liberation.
Ekeocha calls such donors "the ideological neo-colonial masters of the 21st century" who "aggressively push into Africa their views on contraception, population control, sexualization of children, feminism, homosexuality and abortion."
"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," said Bp. Muhatia in an appeal to the universal Church.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly documents the Fifth Commandment: "You shall not kill: And whoever kills shall be liable to judgment," continuing, "Human life is sacred because, from its beginning, it involves the creative action of God and it remains forever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end."