THE ABORTION DEBATE: THE SANCTITY OF LIFE. WHERE DOES LIFE BEGINS? By Mungai

Over the years the Christian churches, especially the Catholic Church have been at the forefront advocating for the respect of sanctity of life. According to the Christian faith and cultural morale, life starts at the conception and that’s why they are totally against abortion. In their considered arguments, the mother who procures abortion and abortionists are murders because they commit a crime against humanity.

The church leaders have been advocating for the sanctity of life to be preserved in their day today sermons, thus they have been urging their congregations against these unbecoming vice of abortion. It’s a battle which the church leaders have been fighting.

Each an everyday our press outlets are awash with news of dumped foetus, or, a dumped new born baby. And, it’s not along time when a dog turned out to be the news maker as it had saved a dumped new born baby who was left in the cold to die.

And, with these normal religious sermons, the church could not foretell that this issue would degenerate into a raging debate between pro and anti-abortions and is popping up as one of the contentious issue which might stumble the entrenchment of a new constitution.

According to oxford learner’s dictionary, it defines abortion as a deliberate ending of a pregnancy at an early stage.

The subject o contenticity in the whole issue of abortion is whether life starts at conception, its sanctity and whether it can be legalized or not. It’s a matter which has been blown out of proportion and facts have been distorted of which raises key fundamental queries which needs to be addressed fully.

The matter hit crescendo when it came up in the revised draft constitution, and, according to the religious leaders if the country adopts the revised draft in its current form it might create loopholes which might be used by unscrupulous medical practitioners to procure abortion all in the name of medical practice.

Church leaders grouse lay with the provision made in Article 26(4) which spelt out that abortion could be procured if the foetus posed danger to the mother’s life. And, that’s why they are up in arms in protestation against that clause and they have vowed to mobilize their faithfulness to reject the revised draft in the referendum if it’s not amended.

Parliamentary select committee draft had expressly stated that life begins at the conception and that abortion was prohibited unless permitted in the opinion of a registered medical practitioner. However the committee of experts argues that the provision that life starts at conception was against article 13 which touches on the freedom of conscience, religion, belief and opinion.

However doctors want wider and broader consultation before stating that life begins at conception. They argue that including that in the law would not stop women from getting abortions.

But, the million dollar question still begs where does life begin?

According to head of Catholic Church, Cardinal John Njue, he said that the issue of sanctity of life was a serious one and the way it was phrased in the draft constitution could give room to abortion. It would be wrong for the constitution to abandon fundamental moral vales which were respected by our culture and promoted by the Christian faith. Thus he made a passionate appeal to members of Parliament to make it clear in the constitution that life begins at conception – making exceptions in the law that a medical practitioner could determine when an abortion was necessary was a loophole since some doctors could be abortionists.

He concluded that the church supports a new constitution which is the aspiration of many Kenyans, but one that would not allow abortion. His National Council Church insists that the constitution must protect all human life which begins at conception and ends at natural death.

President Kibaki has assured Kenyans that Parliament would not pass a draft constitution that supports abortion. At the same time, Prime Minister Raila Odinga has asked the church leaders to climb down from their hard line positions on controversial abortion debate.

The reproductive health experts and women interests groups have also voiced their concern on the risks the clause exposes women to. In their considered arguments abortion can be legalized through a provision if the situation beckons, like in a situation where the life of a mother is in danger, or, a situation where a woman is raped, gets pregnant and instead of living in denials an abortion is procured.

But, as a country and the general society, are we living in a state of denials, or, are we bowing our heads down trapped at a crossroad concerning that issue?

It is a well known fact that thousand of abortions are been procured either through the backstreet dubious practitioners, or, the old methods when it is estimated that many would be mothers die in one process of aborting. Also, according to other statistics many mothers do die annually due to pregnancy related complications which could have been avoided if an abortion has been procured.

Now all these considerations statistics and arguments complicates the whole issue leaving too much loose ends which draws parallels to the contrary. Thus, we are unable to draw a line as to where is where whereas putting into consideration the fact that the Kenyan Society isn’t a secular type but more of a conservative which is guided by strict adherence of cultural, societal and Christian morals.

Abortion is a highly controversial and emotive issue. Even the U.S.A has not been able to come up with a unified position on the matter. It is a fundamental right issue which calls for concerted resolutions as it raises more questions than answers. And, it seems like we are stuck in a log jam, and if we are going to resolve it, it shouldn’t be discussed in an aura of suspicion, it should be discussed soberly putting into consideration all the facts that have been raised.


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