Atheists support Susan Kihika’s Reproductive Health Bill

The Atheists in Kenya Society has expressed support for the controversial Reproductive Health Bill 2019 unveiled by Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika.

The Society termed it as a ‘progressive’ Bill that will enable men and women to make informed choices on when to have or not have children thereby reducing unwanted pregnancies.

“In the long run, we believe that this Bill will increase educational and economic opportunities for women and lead to healthier families and communities,” Harrison Mumia, the society’s President said.

According to him, it is shameful that the Catholic Church and the Muslim Leadership have objected to the passing of the Bill.

“We urge Senators and MPs to pass this Bill,” Mumia said adding that the Reproductive Health Bill 2019 will give women access to safe and legal abortion services which is essential to realizing and protecting their fundamental human rights.

The Atheists in Kenya Society further averred that many women women have died and others injured due to unsafe abortions that could have been prevented through education on sexuality; family planning services; provision of safe, legally induced abortion and care during complications from abortion.

Reuters reports that almost half a million abortions were conducted in Kenya in 2012 – the most recent data available – with one in four women and girls suffering complications such as high fever, sepsis, shock and organ failure, according to health ministry data.

Unsafe abortions account for 35 percent of maternal deaths in Kenya, much higher than the global average of 13 percent.

About 266 women die per 100,000 unsafe abortions in Kenya – higher than rates in other East African nations, Reuters added.

Most victims are women and girls from poor urban and rural settlements who cannot afford private healthcare, and face stigma and discrimination seeking treatment in public hospitals.

Critics are castigating Kihika’s Reproductive Health Bill claiming that it seeks to legalize abortion.

However, the Nakuru Senator insists: “The Bill has 37 clauses and only one — clause 26 addresses termination of pregnancy, which by the way is already the law of the land under Article 26 of the Constitution that allows exceptions to the right to life 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.”

“The Bill in Part VII Clause 32, addresses adolescent-friendly reproductive health services to include age-appropriate mentorship programmes, spiritual and moral guidance and counselling on abstinence, consequences of unsafe abortion, sexually transmitted infections, substance and drug abuse,” she told the Daily Nation.

Additional report from Reuters