The national government has opposed the Reproductive Health Care Bill 2019 that is sponsored by Nakuru County Senator Susan Kihika.
In a brief to the Senate, the Ministry of Health said that the bill, among other concerns, seeks to normalise abortion on demand contrary to the Constitution and the values of the country.
“The Reproductive Health Bill, 2019 is fundamentally defective, is vague on the emotive technical issues of SRHR and ART, needs to broaden its scope on Reproductive Health, and excludes principle constituencies of content and population,” concluded the Mutahi Kagwe-led ministry in comments to the Senate.
The ministry said the bill which seeks to provide for the right to reproductive health care, set standards of health care, and give individuals the right to make decisions regarding their reproductive health falls short of its intended objectives.
“The bill primary focus is assisted reproduction. The Bill also selectively attempts to address family planning, safe motherhood and termination of pregnancy, reproductive health of adolescents, information and treatment of HIV/AIDS and female genital mutilation,” said the ministry.
In its current state, the ministry said that the bill allows just about anyone to seek the services of surrogates for the bearing of their children, a service the government contends should only be available to couples with a gynaecological indication such as absent uterus or certain reproductive cancers.
On the emotive and controversial issue of abortion, the Health ministry said the proposed provisions normalise abortion on demand contrary to the Constitution and values of the country.
“It introduces a loophole for the termination of pregnancy as a method of family planning,” said the ministry.
The government said the bill intends to transfer the decision to terminate a pregnancy to a cadre of health care providers not competent to make such a decision.
“This transfer 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,” said the government.
There has been pressure from non-governmental organisations on lawmakers to pass legislation to allow abortions on demand and adolescents to access contraceptives.
However, the Kenyan Constitution bars abortion unless sanctioned by medical professionals only when pregnancies endanger the life or health of the mother or for emergency treatment.