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Economy

Health ministry wants abortion bill withdrawn for more talks

Ms Mercy Mwangangi
Ms Mercy Mwangangi, Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS). FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Ministry of Health wants a Bill that seeks to legalise abortion withdrawn from the Senate to facilitate further consultations and redrafting.

The ministry termed the Reproductive Health Bill, 2019 as “fundamentally defective” and called for its withdrawal.

“The Reproductive Health Bill, 2019 is fundamentally defective, is vague on the emotive technical issues of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and assisted reproductive technology (ART), needs to broaden its scope on reproductive health, and excludes principle constituencies of content and population,” Mercy Mwangangi, the Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) told the Senate committee on Health yesterday.

The ministry said the provision on termination of pregnancy should be deleted since abortion is not permitted unless in the opinion of a trained health professional, there is need for emergency treatment, or the life or the health of the mother is in danger.

“The proposed provisions in this part normalise abortion on demand contrary to the Constitution and the values the country,” Dr Mwangagi sad during the scrutiny of the Bill sponsored by Nakuru senator Susan Kihika.

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“It introduces loophole for termination of pregnancy as a method of family planning.”

Dr Mwangangi said the opinion to determine a pregnancy is pathological to warrant termination.

The CAS reckons that the Bill seeks to transfer a highly technical output such as opinion to terminate pregnancy, to cadres of health care providers not proficient to make such a decision, a move that is not consistent with the Kenyan Medical Proficiency Training.

“Any health care provider can be trained to terminate a pregnancy, but an opinion to terminate a pregnancy is a complex decision that must be left to cadres competent to make that decision,” she said.

“In Kenyan training, this falls under medical practitioners and often necessitates a multi-disciplinary input, especially in crisis pregnancies,” she said.

Several lobby groups including the Catholic Parliamentarians caucus and the Kenyan Conference of Catholic Bishops have opposed the Bill arguing that provisions on termination of pregnancy are meant to provide a cover for abortion which is illegal in Kenya.

The Bill contains several aspects of reproductive health including family planning, assisted reproduction and safe motherhood as well as termination of pregnancy.

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