After Passage of Pro-Abortion Constitution, Kenyan Bishops Urge Immediate Amendment

Steven Mosher
and by Colin Mason
PRI Weekly Briefing
25 August 2010
Vol. 12 / No. 23
Reproduced with Permission

Kenya has a new constitution. Approved by an overwhelming majority of Kenyans in a 4 August 2010 referendum, the document's 250 or so pages represent, in some ways, a new beginning for the Kenyan people. Unfortunately, it also means a premature end for Kenya's unborn, because it leaves the door wide open for legalized abortion.

Article 26 of the constitution (PDF) first declares that "every person has the right to life" and that "the life of a person begins at conception." So far, so good. But it then goes on to declare that "abortion is not permitted unless, in the opinion of a trained health professional, there is need for emergency treatment, or if the life or health of the mother is in danger, or if permitted by any other written law."

The "health of the mother" exception, as we know from wide experience, is tantamount to abortion on demand. All the "trained health professional" (read: abortionist) has to do is say that the mother's emotional health is in danger, and the baby's life is forfeit. In other words, an abortion is allowed if an abortionist says so. The phrase "permitted by any other written law" is troubling as well. While it is not easy to amend the constitution, here we find the constitution itself giving pro-abortion legislators the authority to circumvent the entire amendment process by simply passing a law.

It is because of this language that the Kenyan Episcopal Conference (the KEC) opposed the new constitution. The bad provisions in the constitution, they said, though small, act like a "bad leaven," which "transforms and corrupts the whole mass from within."

Instead of protecting life, the Kenyan bishops write, the new constitution "opens the gates to abortion on demand." In a statement available here, the bishops express in no uncertain terms that "the life of a person begins at conception, and unborn babies are therefore human beings, and have a right to life and this document declares that in essence, legislators and 'health professionals' should have a free hand in ending the lives of these human beings."

The bishops also slam the constitution for its emphasis on "reproductive health," which they say "has been defined in the other international forums as being a 'right to abortion," and which they correctly point out will lead to "un-ethical, un-African and un-Godly lifestyles."

With the vast majority of the African peoples expressing pro-life sentiments, abortion is "un-African." It was pressure from the Western pro-abortion groups, funded largely by the U.S., which resulted in these provisions being included in the new constitution in the first place. And it was funding from the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi that aided its passage. Although the Embassy flatly denies influencing the outcome of the referendum, evidence has surfaced that the Obama administration funded groups with the express purpose of turning out a "yes" vote.

According to a press release put out by Congressman Chris Smith's (R-NJ) office, Smith and two other members of Congress have been seeking information from the Office of the Inspector General of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) on these grants. Representatives Smith, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Darrel Issa were able to obtain a "a chart listing USAID funding recipients and a summary of their agreements." Some examples from the list include:

The list goes on for another couple of pages, and clearly demonstrates that Obama administration was using U.S. tax dollars to ensure that the new, pro-abortion constitution passed. Were foreign-funded groups to lobby in this way inside the U.S., it would violate U.S. law. But the Obama administration, ever vigilant for opportunities to promote abortion, felt free to intervene in Kenya's domestic politics in this way.

The KEC urged against ratification of the new constitution before the referendum. Now that it has passed, they are pushing to amend the objectionable provisions. According to an article on Catholic Online, the bishops have said that they "respect the outcome of the referendum. However, truth and right are not about numbers." The bishops also reiterated that the "Church desires to remain at the forefront of legal reform because we all aspire to build a better society that will respect the rights of all and facilitate our economic, social and moral development.'"

The bishops of Kenya are standing up against the kind of cultural imperialism that ignores their values and manipulates their political system. Surely we can give them some help from this side of the Atlantic, by bolstering the voices in Washington who speak out in defense of innocent Life come November.