Networks of 25 Civil Society Organizations working on human rights in Kenya have come out strongly to defend the Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika’s Bill on Reproductive Healthcare.
Addressing media in Nairobi on Sunday, the network of CSOs led by Reproductive Health Network Kenya CEO Ms Nelly Munyasia said that sexual and reproductive health and rights are grounded in the constitution specifically under Article 43 (1) (a) which provides for the right to health including reproductive health care and Article 26 (4) which provides for the right to access safe abortion services where the life or health of the pregnant woman is in danger or in the event of an emergency.
Pursuant to a decision of the High Court in Constitutional Case No. 266 of 2015, women and girls who suffer sexual violence can also access safe abortion services if in the opinion of a trained health provider their life or health is in danger.
These provisions extend to adolescents whose needs and rights are further elaborated in the Adolescents Sexual and Reproductive Health Policy that was enacted by the Ministry of Health in the year 2016.
“We commend the steps being taken to create a comprehensive legal framework and urge all of us to support members of Parliament and the Executive who are working to ensure that women and girls reap the results of the constitutional order that we fought for” said Munyasia.
They condemned acts of intimidation targeting state and public officers that are constitutionally obligated to develop laws and policies that will ensure enjoyment of rights more specifically threats that are allegedly being issued against the life of Senator Susan Kihika who has taken the bold step of working on a legislation on reproductive health and rights. We also condemn threats and harassment against human rights defenders working with state institutions to ensure full enjoyment of SRHR in the country.
The CSOs have also told off religious groups, allied professional groups and individuals for claiming that abortion is illegal in Kenya.
They have vowed to stand in support of women and girls’ sexual and reproductive health rights, including the right to access safe abortion as stipulated by the law.
“This is NOT true. Abortion is legal in Kenya to the extent permitted by the Law. We are also concerned and condemn the threats being issued to Kenyans who are standing up in support of women and girls’ sexual and reproductive health rights, including the right to access safe abortion as stipulated by the law” said Munyasia.
According to the 25 CSOs, the motive of these statements and threats is to erode the gains made as a country in so far as these rights are concerned and are also designed to stop the full operationalization of the legal frameworks that grant these rights, and in the process, deny women their SRHR and access to information and services on the same, including safe abortion services.
The group noted that at the moment, there are no comprehensive laws, regulations, guidelines, and standards, as well as corresponding competency-based training, to guide health professionals to effectively provide sexual and reproductive health information and services, and to enable women and girls to access their sexual and reproductive health rights.