Countering William Ruto’s Ignorant Lies (no. 1): William Ruto, Your Bigoted Stripes Are Showing, and You Are Now Taking Our Intelligence for Granted. Shame on You

Countering William Ruto’s Ignorant Lies (No. 1): William Ruto, your bigoted stripes are showing, and you are now taking our intelligence for granted. Shame on You!

Sex Means Gender – Look it Up in a Dictionary

The Referendum Campaign is degenerating into a farce and somewhat to blame is the Kenyan Mass Media which is unfortunately force feeding us with daily television clips of politicians saying bizarre things and obvious lies about the Proposed Constitution. Surely the time has come for the Mass Media to allow rebuttal of everything being said by the desperate ‘No’ proponents before broadcasting their misleading versions of what the Proposed Constitution means to Kenyans and their future. Ditto the ‘Yes’ political gang which is unscrupulously going about promising heaven on earth the day after August 4, 2010. Balance is a key ethical demand of journalism, or is it not?

Recently, the ‘No’ political gang has become preoccupied with Sex. This word that only appears in the Proposed Constitution of Kenya three times, is now one of the linchpins in William Ruto’s campaign against the Proposed Constitution. Mr. Ruto has now taken to the ‘Big Lie’ technique by which a lie repeated frequently enough will eventually be taken to be the factual truth – and unquestioningly so.

Today, from within the precincts of Parliament William Ruto, in the company of several MPs, held a press conference at which he claimed that section 27(4) of the Proposed Constitution will legalise same sex marriage. He also dared anyone to rebut his interpretation – and so we at Mars Group, totally fed up with William Ruto, now meet his challenge.

William Ruto is spewing bunk and we’d like to call him out of order.

The Proposed Constitution in section 45 (2) is clear as to what marriages are to be legal in Kenya should it be passed at the Referendum of August 4, 2010. In sum, section 45(2) of the Proposed Constitution of Kenya clearly states that “Every adult has the right to marry a person of the opposite sex, based on the free consent of the parties.”

Either because of desperation, or for lack of education, Mr. Ruto understands, or believes that the word ‘sex’ in section 27 means something other than ‘gender’ in constitutional terms. His inferences on same-sex-marriage and otherwise are ignorant and unbefitting of a three-term legislator especially now that he is on a whirlwind tour of the country advising people on the content of the Proposed Constitution. In fact section 27 of the Proposed Constitution of Kenya declares the right to equality between the two sexes (Female and Male) and the prohibition of any State and Private discrimination against any Kenyan merely on account of their gender (i.e. sex).

Section 27 (4) reads as follows:
PROPOSED CONSTITUTION OF KENYA
Equality and freedom from discrimination
27. (1) Every person is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law.
(2) Equality includes the full and equal enjoyment of all rights and fundamental freedoms.
(3) Women and men have the right to equal treatment, including the right to equal opportunities in political, economic, cultural and social spheres.
(4) The State shall not discriminate directly or indirectly against any person on any ground, including race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, health status, ethnic or social origin, colour, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, dress, language or birth.
(5) A person shall not discriminate directly or indirectly against another person on any of the grounds specified or contemplated in clause (4).

The only other clause in the Proposed Constitution of Kenya which contains the word ‘sex’ is section 53 which makes plain that in the event that a child is to be detained that detention conditions shall take account of both the age and the gender of the concerned minor. To advance this argument we would advise William Ruto and his cohort to look at the Current Constitution of Kenya, and if they did they would surely see (unless they choose to be blind) that Chapter V our Bill of Rights, currently contains two clauses in which the word ‘sex’ appears; AND clearly when the word appears it means ‘gender’ (read section 70 – ‘Fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual’ & section 82(3) – ‘Protection from discrimination on the grounds of race, etc’). The word ‘sex’ appears nowhere else in the Current Constitution of Kenya, and obviously it’s context and meaning are clear. Since 1963 how many same-sex marriages have been conducted on the basis of these two clauses of our Current Constitution, Mr. Ruto?

We pray that Kenyans won’t be fooled by the likes of Mr. Ruto; and that they will read the Proposed Constitution for themselves. Compare the Proposed Constitution with that which has prevailed in Kenya and permitted dictatorship and gross human rights violations, and make your own individual choices. For our part we would say to Mr. William Ruto, using his own well-worn catch-phrase, ‘Give Us a Break’! William Ruto, your bigoted stripes are showing, and you are now taking our intelligence for granted. Shame on You, Kiema Kilonzo, Canon Karanja et al.

Lies run sprints but the Truth runs marathons.

Mars Group Kenya


RELEVANT CLAUSES REFERRED TO:

PROPOSED CONSTITUTION OF KENYA

Family
Section 45.

(1) The family is the natural and fundamental unit of society and the necessary basis of social order, and shall enjoy the recognition and protection of the State.
(2) Every adult has the right to marry a person of the opposite sex, based on the free consent of the parties.
(3) Parties to a marriage are entitled to equal rights at the time of the marriage, during the marriage and at the dissolution of the marriage.
(4) Parliament shall enact legislation that recognises—
(a) marriages concluded under any tradition, or system of religious, personal or family law; and
(b) any system of personal and family law under any tradition, or adhered to by persons professing a particular religion,
to the extent that any such marriages or systems of law are consistent with this Constitution.

Obviously, in this context, Sex’ means gender!!

PROPOSED CONSTITUTION OF KENYA
Children

section 53.

(1) Every child has the right –


(f) not to be detained, except as a measure of last resort, and when detained, to be held –

(i) for the shortest appropriate period of time; and


(ii) separate from adults and in conditions that take account of the child’s sex and age.

Obviously, in this context, Sex’ means gender!!

CURRENT CONSTITUTION OF KENYA
Section 70.

Fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual.

Whereas every person in Kenya is entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, that is to say, the right, whatever his race, tribe, place of origin or residence or other local connexion, political opinions, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest, to each and all of the following, namely—
(a) life, liberty, security of the person and the protection of the law;
(b) freedom of conscience, of expression and of assembly and association; and
(c) protection for the privacy of his home and other property and from deprivation of property without compensation,
the provisions of this Chapter shall have effect for the purpose of affording protection to those rights and freedoms subject to such limitations of that protection as are contained in those provisions, being limitations designed to ensure that the enjoyment of those rights and freedoms by any individual does not prejudice the rights and freedoms of others or the public interest.

Obviously, in this context, Sex’ means gender!!

CURRENT CONSTITUTION OF KENYA
Section 82.

Protection from discrimination on the grounds of race, etc.

(1) Subject to subsections (4), (5) and (8), no law shall make any provision that is discriminatory either of itself or in its effect. [FN: 9 of 1997, s. 9,]

(2) Subject to subsections (6), (8) and (9), no person shall be treated in a discriminatory manner by a person acting by virtue of any written law or in the performance of the functions of a public office or a public authority.

(3) In this section the expression “discriminatory” means affording different treatment to different persons attributable wholly or mainly to their respective descriptions by race, tribe, place of origin or residence or other local connexion, political opinions, colour, creed or sex whereby persons of one such description are subjected to disabilities or restrictions to which persons of another such description are not made subject or are accorded privileges or advantages which are not accorded to persons of another such description.

Obviously, in this context, Sex’ means gender!!

On the Abortion Question: by Professor Japheth Mati, Mb, Chb, Md, Frcog

ON THE ABORTION QUESTION

Professor Japheth Mati, MB, ChB, MD, FRCOG

Formerly, Professor and Chairman,

Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and

Dean, Faculty of Medicine,

University of Nairobi, Kenya.

Introduction

The Abortion Debate has dominated the thoughts of Kenyans since Parliament passed without ammendments, the draft Constitution of Kenya, on 1st April, 2010. I think most people would agree that the way to go is not “abortion on demand”; beyond that the differences creep in over the issue of rights- rights of the mother and rights of her unborn child. On the one side are those who would wish to guarantee unconditionally rights of the unborn child; on the other, are those who, faced with the difficult decision on which life to save, would apply ‘the principle of the lesser of two evils’. This article presents a brief overview of the varied opinions on abortion over the ages; these may be relavant to the current debate. It examines the place of abortion in African cultural settings, as well as within the major religions. Further, it explores the scientific and philosophical arguments on questions such as ‘when life begins’, ‘when life become morally valuable’ and ‘when personhood begins’.

As Kenyans prepare for the Referendum it is imperative that we familiarise ourselves with what we currently have and what is proposed in the New Constitution. On the charged question of abortion it seems like there is no advantage either way. Whichever way the Referendum vote will go, it will still remain bad news for reproductive health and rights of women in Kenya. The law will remain restrictive either way! Perhaps the only difference one might notice will be that whilst today the clause restricting abortion lies in an Act of Parliament (the Penal Code), ‘tomorrow’, it will be entrenched in the Constitution (I wish the wording could be improved!).

Abortion as a Cultural and Religious Issue

The history of abortion (i.e. termination of pregnancy) can be traced back to antiquity. The ancient Egyptians possessed effective abortifacients. However, the knowledge about these and other methods of fertility control was gradually lost over the course of the Middle Ages, becoming nearly extinct by the early modern period[i]. There is considerable anecdotal evidence to suggest abortion features prominently in Traditional Medicine in most African countries. The following extract describes the practice among the Samburu in Kenya, where specific indigenous abortifacients are known:

“Abortion (airony) is rare but will be performed on unmarried girls by older women. It is carried out away from the village in the bush. Methods include the ingestion of several strong purgatives (including a solution made from the roots of the “toothbrush” tree sokotei (Salvadora persica L.) mixed with sheep’s urine and dung), accompanied by hard massaging and rope tightening about the girl’s abdomen. In addition, Western pharmaceuticals such as chloroquine may be ingested in large quantities. If the abortion is successful, the girl drinks tea made with I-terikesi (Acacia senegal L. Wild.) and siteti (Grewia bicolor A. Juss), boiling the bark until it turns red, symbolic of women’s reproductive powers”[ii].

Administration of abortifacient agents has been described among Rwandese Traditional Healers in Refugee Camps in Tanzania[iii], as well as in a study involving adolescents and young adults also in Tanzania[iv]. The latter study found that abortion was widely, if infrequently, attempted, by ingestion of laundry detergent, chloroquine, ashes, and specific herbs. “Most women who attempted abortion were young, single, and desperate. Some succeeded, but they experienced opposition from sexual partners, sexual exploitation by practitioners, serious health problems, social ostracism, and quasi-legal sanctions”.

  • · Abortion in the Judeo-Christian Tradition

The word ‘abortion’ does not feature anywhere in the Bible, either the Old or the New Testament, even though the books of Moses contain rules governing issues like menstruation, rape, and incest, and both Jesus and Paul provide guidance regarding marriage. On the other hand, there are texts among the so called “disputed” books which specifically address the issue of abortion. The 2nd century Epistle of Barnabas says “….You shall not slay a child by abortion. You shall not kill that which has already been generated” (Epistle of Barnabas 19:5). Overall, the argument against abortion is hinged on Exodus 20:13 “Thou shalt not kill”, in this case, killing a fetus.

Generally speaking, traditionalist Jews firmly oppose abortion, with few health-related exceptions; while liberal Jews tend to allow greater latitude for abortion. The Torah says little about the status or treatment of the embryo or fetus. Indeed, only one crucial Biblical law establishes a rule about the killing of an embryo or fetus. Specifically, Exodus 21:22-23 deals with miscarriage resulting from injury inflicted on a pregnant woman caught up in a fight. In mainstream rabbinic Judaism, abortion is sanctioned under certain circumstances, namely for medical reason. In principle, Judaism does not regard the fetus as a full human being. While deliberately killing a day old baby is murder, according to the Mishnah, a fetus is not covered by this strict homicide rule[v]. Embryo is not a person; homicide concerns an animate human being (nefesh adam from Lev. 24:17) alone, not an embryo… because the embryo is not a person (lav nefesh hu)[vi].

  • · Abortion in the world of Islam

In the world of Islam, while there is no actual approval of abortion, there is no strict, unanimous ban on it, either. The Qur’an does not explicitly mention abortion, but condemns the killing of humans (except in the case of defense or as capital punishment). Generally, abortion is forbidden after the stage of ensoulment (when soul is presumed to have entered the embryo, after 120 days). After this stage, abortion is prohibited completely except where it is imperative to save the mother’s life. This exception is based on the principle of the lesser of two evils (see below) – either abort the unborn child or let a living woman die. There is a lack of unanimity in the way abortion is treated in the different parts of world of Islam. For example, in Egypt, Jurists of the Shiite Zaidiva believe in the total permissibility of abortion “before life is breathed into the fetus”, no matter whether there is a justifiable excuse or not[vii]. The Maliki school of thought (prevalent in North and sub-Saharan Africa) and the Hanbali school (predominant in Saudi Arabia and United Arabic Emirates) permit abortion only up to 40 days[viii]. In addition, there are those within Islam who oppose abortion under any circumstances, quoting the text “Do not kill your children for fear of poverty for it is We who shall provide sustenance for you as well as for them.” (Surah, Al-An’ am, 6:151). However, this Qur’anic reference is usually interpreted to apply only to the killing of already born children, and does not explicitly refer to abortion.

  • · Buddhism and abortion[ix]

There is no single Buddhist view concerning abortion. Buddhist monastic code, hold that life begins at conception and that abortion, which would then involve the deliberate destruction of life, should be rejected. Complicating the issue is the Buddhist belief that “life is a continuum with no discernible starting point”[x]. The Dalai Lama has said that abortion is “negative,” but there are exceptions. He said, “I think abortion should be approved or disapproved according to each circumstance.”[xi]

While traditional sources do not seem to be aware of the possibility of abortion as being relevant to the health of the mother, modern Buddhist teachers from many traditions – and abortion laws in many Buddhist countries – recognize a threat to the life or physical health of the mother as an acceptable justification for abortion as a practical matter, though it may still be seen as a deed with negative moral or karmic consequences.

Individual Hindus hold varying positions on abortion, although traditional Hindu texts and teachings condemn elective abortions. Classical Hindu texts are strongly opposed to abortion; in practice, however, abortion is practiced in Hindu and Sikh culture in India, because the religious ban on abortion is sometimes overruled by the cultural preference for sons, this leading to abortion to prevent the birth of girl babies (‘female foeticide’).”[xiv] The Sikh code of conduct does not deal directly with abortion, but because Sikhs believe that life begins at conception, this implies abortion is generally forbidden since it interferes in the creative work of God.

Hindus generally tend to support abortion in cases where the mother’s life is at risk or when the fetus has a life threatening developmental anomaly. Some Hindu theologians believe personhood begins at 3 months and develops through to 5 months of gestation, possibly implying abortion is permissible up to the third month, and that beyond the third month abortion is considered to be destruction of the soul’s current incarnate body[xv].

Summary of abortion practices that are common across the major religions

The common message from all the major religions is that of discouraging abortion; however, in almost all of them abortion is sanctioned where there is threat to the life (or in Budhism, physical health) of the mother, or where the fetus has a life threatening developmental anomaly (in Hinduism). The word ‘abortion’ does not feature anywhere in the Holy Bible (both Christian and Jewish), neither is abortion explicitly mentioned in the Holy Qur’an. Generally, the argument against abortion hinges upon the commandment against homicide, i.e. “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13), but this is not specific to killing a fetus (in Judaism the fetus is not regarded as a full human being). The Qur’anic reference to the killing of children for fear of poverty (Surah, Al-An’ am, 6:151) has usually been interpreted to apply to the killing of children already born, and does not explicitly refer to abortion.

The principle of the lesser of two evils

Many of the day to day decisions we take in medical practice have for ages been guided by the principle of the ‘lesser of two evils’. For example, every now and then, a pregnancy has to be terminated prematurely because a woman’s life is in danger, for example, in women with very severe preeclampsia. This is done despite the fact that the baby may be so immature as not to survive after delivery. This action is justified by accepting that the fetus cannot live without the mother, and in the process we unwittingly assign value on life. In this regard we act as if the life of the fetus is somehow of less value compared with that of its mother, and so deny it the protection and rights that adults have. Another situation where we differentially attach value to lives is when we undertake prenatal diagnostic tests for suspected severe abnormalities in the baby in utero, for example Down’s syndrome; this may be followed by termination of the pregnancy if the test comes back positive. In doing this we are actually treating the life of the affected baby (in utero) differently from that of mentally and physically handicapped individuals in society whom we accord no less value on account of their disability.

The issue of value also arises at the other end of the continuum of life- for example, whether or not to devote limited resources to life-support services in the case of the terminally ill, or those in a permanent coma. It might be argued that these resources are better put to use providing health care services where there is chance of successful treatment and recovery. Further, it can also be said that maintaining such cases on long-term life-support is not only expensive, but also emotionally traumatising to the family. Another example of differentiating value of life is in stem cell research. In recent years, advances in assisted reproduction technology have made it possible to sustain ‘spare’ embryos in the laboratory (i.e. the excess embryos that are not transferred into the uterus following in-vitro fertilisation). These extra embryos can provide tailor-made human tissue that can be used in the treatment of several chronic debilitating illnesses. In this situation we consider the relative value of the embryo’s life versus that of the beneficiaries of the treatment

When does life of a person begin?

The most pertinent question arising from the above examples is not when life begins and ends, but when life begins to matter morally. Biology defines life at the cellular level, with the cell being the smallest unit of life. Every living thing is comprised of cells. An organism made up of only one cell, such as an amoeba, is alive as much as an organism made up of an estimated 10 trillion cells, such as a human being. The draft Proposed Kenyan Constitution Article 26(2) states that ‘The life of a person begins at conception’. However, although the moment of conception (fertilisation) is fundamental to the subsequent development of the baby, it nevertheless is a process which involves two already living human cells, the egg and the sperm. The woman’s egg and man’s sperm both have essentials of living things. By the time these cells meet and fuse they have undergone a series of complex developmental changes, which are crucial to their ability to fuse and develop into a baby. When they fuse at fertilisation a new individual living cell (zygote) is formed that can be said to have human life because it results from fusion of human gametes, and an adult human being can certainly be derived from it.

It is also important to appreciate that a number of things may happen at conception. Fertilisation can result not in a fetus but in a type of tumour known as hydatidiform mole, which every now and then, becomes a threat to the life of the mother. Does this tumour, a product of conception, have all the rights and protection that the fetus has? Even in ‘normal’ fertilisation the fertilised egg eventually divides into two major components, the embryoblast which becomes the fetus and trophoblast which forms the placenta, membranes and the umbilical cord. These derivatives of the trophoblast are alive, are human, and have the same genetic composition as the fetus, but they are ‘discarded’ at birth.

On the whole there is no consensus among scientists as to when human life begins[xvi]. All that can be safely said of the fertilised egg is that it is live human tissue. Both the egg and sperm have been alive from the moment they differentiated within the ovary and testis respectively, and before they met at fertilisation. It is not strictly correct to say life begins at conception. Life is a continuum and the emergence of the individual person occurs gradually.

When does life begin to matter morally?

The Constitution guarantees the right to life to a ‘person’; a ‘person’ is made a bearer of rights; and a ‘person’ ought to be respected. The question is: when does the fertilised egg or “progenitor” human cell become a person?

The definition of ‘person’ has been a subject of concern for philosophers since the time of John Locke (1632 – 1704) who proposed that what distinguishes a person from other creatures was a combination of rationality and self-consciousness. This view is also taken by Singer[xvii] (1984) and Harris[xviii] (1985) who see personhood as consisting in the natural capacity of a human individual to express itself through various functions and activities, especially self-conscious rational and free acts. On the other hand, there is no question that newborn babies are human persons, even though they have not yet developed to the stage of having acquired the ability to exercise self-conscious rational acts. It is understood that the infant has an inherent natural active capacity to develop to the stage of being able to exercise self-conscious and rational acts expected of human individual. We recognise that we are the same being today that was born many years ago.

Warnock[xix] (1983) finds it practically impossible to decide what is to count as a person in general, on the criteria of rationality and self-value. On the issue of whether a foetus values itself or its life, and whether embryos morally matter, Warnock concludes this is a question that must be answered by judgement and decision, according to a particular moral standpoint. How much human life should be respected in its very early stages and whether human embryos have rights, are not a question of fact but a question of value.

Two other views are based on the stage of embryological development reached by the fetus. The first is that by Ford[xx] (1988) who argues that the appearance of the primitive streak is the critical embryological stage when the embryo depicts a definite human body plan, therefore attaining person-hood. This occurs about 14 days after fertilization and following the completion of implantation of the embryo in the mother’s womb. This is the time when the human body is first formed with a definite body plan and definitive axis of symmetry. He argues that prior to the primitive streak stage it would seem to be quite unreal to speak of the presence of a distinct human individual. The second is by Lockwood (1985)[xxi] according to which the development of the nervous system is quintessential to development of rational self-conscious behaviour, and a human being cannot begin before the appropriate brain structures are developed that are capable of sustaining awareness. He says “just as I shall live only as long as the relevant part of my brain remains essentially intact, so I came into existence only when the appropriate part or parts of my brain came into existence…… When I came into existence is a matter of how far back the relevant neuro-physiological continuity can be traced. Presumably then, my life began somewhere between conception and birth”.

According to Ozolins[xxii] (2003) human personhood can be regarded as a cluster concept, which involves not only criteria such as consciousness, bodiliness, rational soul or mental faculties, but also relational and social criteria. He argues that because it is evident that the human embryo is a stage in the continuum that constitutes the human person – beginning with the zygote and ending in old age, the human embryo is a person from the moment it comes into existence. From the biblical point of view “God created man in his own image” (Genesis 1:27). Thus, being made in the image of God connotes that human beings have intrinsic moral value based on whom they are instead of extrinsic moral value based on certain functions and capabilities they possess (Powell, 2010)[xxiii]. The above two arguments are in support of the so-called ‘potentiality argument’ which says that even if life does not begin at conception, and if it cannot be said that a new individual human being begins there, at least the potential for a new human being is then present, complete with its full genetic make-up, and with all its uniqueness and individuality. Hence, since the fertilised egg is potentially a human being we must endow it with all the same rights and protections that are possessed by actual human beings. The counter argument states that the bare fact that something will become X is not a good reason for treating it now as if it were in fact X. Also, as argued above, the fertilised egg does not always develop into the adult human being.

In summary, there is lack of consensus not only on when life of a person begins, but also when the embryo attains the status of personhood. Most laws confer status of personhood on children at birth- i.e. once humans are born, personhood is considered automatic.

Conclusions

Kenya is at the crossroads; the decisions taken today can propell us to a healthy and prosperous nation. Specifically, the way we handle the emotive abortion question today can have far reaching impacts on the health (and lives) of women and children of this country. Unsafe abortion is a major contributor to the unacceptably high levels of maternal morbidity and mortality prevailing in Kenya, and it is a key challenge to the achievement of Millennium Development Goal 5 of improving maternal health by 2015, as well as attaining the health targets set out in Vision 2030. In addressing the issue of unsafe abortion particular focus should be on ensuring equity in access to health care, especially for the poor and marginalised communities. To quote Dr Njoroge Waithaka, the Chairman of the Kenya Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society: “… rich women have many options for terminating a pregnancy. In Kenya today, women leaders who want to terminate pregnancies have it easy. They just drive to leading private hospitals, consult a gynaecologist, undergo counselling and the abortion is done in no time, although at a high cost. On the other hand, poor women depend on quacks in backstreet clinics, risking their lives”[xxiv].

In Kenya, despite the absence of supportive statistics, it is highly possible that considerably more induced abortions occur among the wealthier and more mature women than among the poor young single women, that are often reported from public institutions. It is the latter that sustain Kenya’s high maternal mortality rates, and who will make it impossible to attain national and international goals, if they are left ‘out of the loop’. We may take heed of the following observation by a leading proponent of reproductive health, the renowned Professor Mahmoud Fathalla of Egypt who, referring to maternal deaths, (many of them due to unsafe abortion), concluded: “…women do not die from conditions we cannot manage; they die because society has yet to determine that their lives are worth saving”.

Finally, the following four comments and observations summarise some bitter truths which we may keep in mind as the debate on abortion continues:

1)        Criminalisation of abortion in Kenya, perpetuated from the colonial laws, (even though abortion was decriminalised in Britain way back in 1967), has not minimised the magnitude of the problem of induced abortion. I do not believe any woman goes for termination of pregnancy because she likes it. The reality is that she is forced into it! And the desire to get over with it is sometimes so intense that she will avail herself of this last resort irrespective of risks to her own life.

2)        Enactment of strict laws against abortion is not one and the same with reduction of induced abortion; in fact, what such laws do is to change the patterns of morbidity and mortality associated with abortion, towards increased morbidity and mortality. The only sure way of effectively minimizing unsafe abortion is to ensure women (including adolescents and youths) have easy access to contraceptive information and services, backed up by positive legislation that decriminalizes abortion.

3)        Like many other opportunities, decriminalisation of abortion can be abused, when abortion is used as a primary method of birth control. This happened in the former Soviet Union, however, with increased access to contraception since its collapse, there has been a marked reduction in numbers of abortions in Russia. Here in Kenya, for many marginalised women (including adolescents and youths), abortion may still be the only birth control option available to them, since they lack easy access to contraception.

4)        The existing law as well as the provisions in the Proposed Constitution will only permit legal abortion where the life of the mother is in danger. In fact, the life of any woman carrying an unwanted pregnancy can be shown to be in danger: all such women suffer from stress, often suffer depression, and may even develop suicidal tendencies. However, the process that such women have to undergo in order to meet the requirement of the law is demeaning; often, it gives them a label of psychiatric illness, not to mention that it is expensive, time consuming, and in many respects unnecessary. Do these women enjoy the provision in Article 28 in the Proposed Constitution, which states: Every person has inherent dignity and the right to have that dignity respected and protected?


[i] John Riddle Contraception and Abortion from the Ancient World to the Renaissance, 1992 www.flipkart.com/contraception…/0674168763-o3w3f9wmrc – India

[ii] Elliot Frankin Traditional Medicine and Concepts of Healing Among Samburu Pastoralists of Kenya Journal of Ethnobiology 16(1):63-97 Summer 1996

[iii] Dorothy C. Ramathal ;Olipa D. Ngassapa, Medicinal Plants Used by Rwandese Traditional Healers in Refugee Camps in Tanzania,  Pharmaceutical Biology, Volume 39 (2) February 2001 , pages 132 – 137, DOI: 10.1076/phbi.39.2.132.6251

[iv] Mary L. Plummer, Joyce Wamoyi, Kija Nyalali, et al., Aborting and Suspending Pregnancy in Rural Tanzania: An Ethnography of Young People’s Beliefs and Practices, Studies in family Planning Volume 39 Issue 4 , p 281-292 Published Online: Nov 24 2008 1:39PM DOI: 10.1111/j.1728-4465.2008.00175.x

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judaism_and_abortion

For rabbinic sources, see Feldman 254f. notes 17-19

[vii] A booklet published in the Arab Republic of Egypt entitled “Islam’s Attitude Towards Family Planning”, www.sacredchoices.org/islam_contraception_abortion_in_SacredChoices.htm

[viii] www.inclinicabortion.info/abortion-in-islam

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhism_and_abortion

Harvey, Peter. Introduction to Buddhist Ethics (2000). Cambridge University Press. pg. 328-29

Barnhart, Michael G. (1995). Buddhism and the Morality of Abortion. Journal of Buddhist Ethics, 5. Retrieved August 10, 2006.

[xii]      en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hinduism_and_abortion

[xiii] www.bbc.co.uk/religion/…/sikhism/sikhethics/abortion.shtml

[xiv] http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/hinduism/hinduethics/abortion_1.shtml

[xv] Hinduism Today “Hindus In America Speak out on Abortion Issues”   www.hinduismtoday.com/modules/smartsection/item.php?

[xvi] Scott F. Gilbert (2007) When ‘personhood’ begins in the embryo: Avoiding a Syllabus of Errors. http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/119818460/abstract?

[xvii] Peter Singer The Reproductive Revolution: New ways of Making Babies, Oxford, OUP, 1984

[xviii] John Harris The Value of Life, Routedge & Kegan Paul, London, Boston, Melbourne, Henley, 1985

[xix] Baroness Warnock In-Vitro Fertilisation: The Ethical Issues II, The Philosophical Quarterly 33[132]:239, 1983

[xx]Norman Ford When did I begin? Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1988

[xxi] Michael Lockwood Moral Dilemmas in Modern Medicine, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1985

[xxii] www.wcp2003.org/ethics/John_Ozolins.doc

[xxiii] Christina M.H. Powell (2010) How Bioethics Addresses Personhood

http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/201002/201002_134_define_person.cfm

[xxiv] Source: K. Kiberenge and J. Kiarie, The standard, 12 February 2010

An Appeal to the Citizens of the Republic of Kenya: It is Your Patriotic Civic Duty to Register to Vote – by Jayne and Mwalimu Mati

AN APPEAL TO THE CITIZENS OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA: It is your patriotic civic duty to register to vote – by Jayne and Mwalimu Mati

Fellow Citizens of Kenya,

We write to appeal to you, our brothers and sisters, to register to vote for the new proposed Constitution of Kenya at the referendum and for the leaders of your choice at the next general election.

We, like most of you, were born into an independent Kenya and into a constitution that states that Kenya is a democracy, but sadly, we have lived under bad governance and corruption for all our lives.

We write also as parents of two children because we believe that it is our duty as responsible citizens to encourage fellow Kenyans to foster a democratic environment that will create opportunities for our children and all the children of Kenya.

Every patriotic Kenyan citizen shares the responsibility for civic awareness, and civic duty. This is not the work of the media, faith groups, political parties or non-governmental organizations alone.  Every citizen shares the responsibility of working together to foster democracy for the good of our country. At all times citizens must act in the interest of fellow Citizens, because by doing so, we guarantee our own individual and collective interests. Democracy involves providing opportunities for all citizens without discrimination, which also means making decisions for our children who cannot vote until they attain the legal age of 18 years. We have a Constitutional and moral obligation to each other as citizens to make the best decisions on behalf of those who are young Kenyans below the age of 18 years. Every Kenyan Citizen over the age of 18 years (eligible to vote) must register to vote for the new proposed Constitution of Kenya at the referendum and for the leaders of their choice at the next general election.  And every Citizen must encourage their fellow citizens starting at home and at work to do the same.

Your Vote is your democratic and Constitutional right. Our votes allow us as citizens to do certain things or make sure that certain things are done for the benefit of all. It is only with your vote, that you can ensure that we have a “Constitution and government of the Kenyan people, by the Kenyan people, for the Kenyan people.” As Citizens of Kenya, we must play an informed role in the governance of our country. We must empower ourselves by registering to vote, because, it is only through the ballot, that we will make effective decisions about how and who we choose to govern on our behalf. It is only through the ballot that we will get a new Constitution for our country. It is only through the ballot that we will get a lawfully elected Government that will carry out the will of the Kenyan people.

As Citizens of Kenya, we all live together in our country. We therefore need to agree on how to run the affairs of our country. This agreement on how to run our country takes the form of a Constitution of Kenya. This agreement – a set of rules, agreed on by us as citizens binds all persons and is the supreme Law of the Republic. Our current Constitution says that all sovereign power in Kenya belongs to the Citizens of Kenya, and that we exercise this power through the Constitution of the Republic of Kenya. The current Constitution declares the Rights of the Individual citizen and makes the state responsible for guaranteeing those rights.  But our current Constitution needs improvement to undo decades of amendments that weakened our democracy and created opportunities to destroy protective mechanisms and checks and balances.  Past Presidents and Parliaments did this.

We are soon to vote on a new set of rules in the proposed new constitution – how we as citizens want to live with each other and how we want to exercise our sovereign power. Let us make that decision together, as responsible Kenyans who love our country. Voting for the proposed new constitution can be the beginning of a new true democratic era, where we vote and also get involved. Where we say that from now, we, as citizens will share the job of governing our country.

The Proposed new Constitution lays a better foundation for good governance than the current one, which since 1964 has been amended to the benefit of the Presidents of Kenya and their cohorts.  The Proposed new Constitution declares that Kenya is a Sovereign Republic which is founded on Principles of Good Governance through multi party democracy, participatory governance, transparency and accountability, separation and devolution of powers, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the Rule of Law. This is how we as citizens of Kenya want to run our country.

The Proposed new Constitution recognizes that all Kenyans are born equal. That Fundamental Rights and Freedoms of Kenyans Citizens are given by God, and not by the State. That Kenyans have Human Rights because Kenyans are human beings. That protection of Human Rights and fundamental freedoms in the Constitution is because these rights are inalienable and cannot be taken away from us by anyone. And that Kenyans who occupy positions of power are subject to controls, checks and balances to ensure that they do not abuse their fellow citizens’ rights, as has been the case to date.  We as Kenyan Citizens must be ready to defend these rights at any cost.

The Proposed new Constitution in our opinion, strives to achieve the goals of a democratic society; the greatest possible freedom for all Kenyans; A just society; the same rules for all Kenyans; Equality before the law; Respect for the rule of law; and Equal opportunities for all Kenyans.

The Proposed new Constitution has addressed the equitable sharing, distribution, and allocation of public resources for development among all citizens. Kenyan citizens can get rich legally. Kenyans will have the right to: Fair and favourable conditions of work; Equal pay for work of equal value; the right to form and belong to a trade union; and the right to enjoy social security. The Proposed new Constitution has constitutionalised proper fiscal management of public funds and facilitates punishment of those who steal public funds. It deals with corruption firmly.

The Proposed new Constitution has effectively dealt with checks and balances by providing for independent arms of Government and in particular has dealt extensively with an independent Judiciary.

The Proposed new Constitution guarantees in an elaborate enhanced Bill of Fundamental Rights; the right to life, the right to personal freedom, Protection against slavery and forced labour, Protection from inhuman treatment, Protection from property being taken away illegally, Protection against an illegal search or entry, the right to the protection of the law, Freedom of conscience, Freedom of expression, Freedom of association and assembly, Freedom of movement, Freedom from discrimination, the right to participate in political activity without restriction, the right to hold your own views and talk about what you think and believe, the right to relate and socialize, and to move freely without obstruction. It also guarantees political, economic, social and cultural rights.

Over the 20 or more years that Kenyans have fought and even died trying to get a new Constitution, the views of millions of Kenyans have been collected. The Constitution of Kenya Review Commission reported these views in 2002. Summarized Kenyans said:

1. Give us the chance to live a decent life: with our fundamental needs of food, water, clothing, shelter, security and basic education met by our own efforts and the assistance of government.

2. We want a fair system of access to land for the future and justice for the wrongs of the past

3. Let us have more control over the decisions that affect our lives, bring government closer to us – and let us understand better the decisions we can’t make ourselves but which affect us deeply

4. We don’t want power concentrated in the hands of one person

5. We want our MPs to work hard, respect us and our views – and we want the power to kick them out if they don’t

6. We want to be able to choose leaders who have qualities of intelligence, integrity and sensitivity that make them worthy to lead us.

7. We want an end to corruption

8. We want police who respect citizens – so they can be respected by them

9. We want women to have equal rights and gender equity

10. We want children to have a future worth looking forward to – including orphans and street children

11. We want respect and decent treatment for the disabled.

12. We want all communities to be respected and free to observe their cultures and beliefs

13. We assert our rights to hold all sections of our government accountable – and we want honest and accessible institutions to ensure this accountability

It is our humble opinion that the Proposed new Constitution has captured our views and that we must therefore vote in large numbers at the referendum to ensure that it is enacted so that we can secure a brighter future for our children. We must also remember that even with the passing of a new constitution, the rules will bind us all. That no one is above the law; this basically means that all Kenyans are equal before the law and are subject to it. Any Kenyan who makes choices has to make them according to the say so of the law. The new Constitution will only make a difference in our lives if we adhere to the rule of law.

To ensure that the rule of law is respected in Kenya is our civic duty; and the responsibility ultimately lies with the citizens of Kenya. We write to you as fellow patriotic Kenyan citizens who love our country.

Most Sincerely,

Jayne & Mwalimu Mati

Mars Group Kenya

A Citizen’s Perspective on the Harmonised Draft Constitution of Kenya – Securing Human, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Are the Only Basis for the Establishment of a State and a Constitution to Govern It.

A Citizen’s Perspective On The Harmonised Draft Constitution Of Kenya – Securing Human, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Are The Only Basis For The Establishment of A State And A Constitution To Govern It.

Kenya is a Sovereign Republic: The Harmonized Draft Constitution has described Kenya as a Sovereign Republic which is founded on Principles of Good Governance through Multi party democracy, participatory governance, transparency and accountability, separation and devolution of powers, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the Rule of Law.

The purpose of establishing a State and a Constitution: To secure the basic human, economic, social and cultural rights is the purpose of establishing a State and a Constitution. The Constitution declares the Rights of the Individuals and groups and makes the state responsible for guaranteeing those rights. These Rights can be found in the Bill of Rights in Chapter 5 of the current Constitution and in Chapter 6 of the harmonised draft Constitution. The Bill of Rights is not merely an integral part of Kenya’s democratic State; it is the fundamental basis for the establishment of the State. In other words, apart from our securing our Rights as Citizens, there is no other purpose or reason to create a State or a Constitution.

Rights are inalienable and possessed by Kenyans: The purpose of the recognition and protection of Human Rights and fundamental freedoms in the Constitution is because these rights are inalienable and possessed by all Kenyans without regard to their social status, origin or persuasion. The State is therefore required by Kenyan citizens to use all State resources and Institutions to enhance these Rights and the State is prohibited from using its resources and Institutions to curtail these Rights as guaranteed to Kenyans. Rather, all resources owned by the State belong to Kenyans and are to be used for the benefit of Kenyan Citizens in protecting their rights.

All Kenyans are born equal: Fundamental Rights and Freedoms of Kenyans Citizens are given by God, and not by the State. Kenyans have Human Rights because Kenyans are human beings. All these rights are recognised by the entire world and restate that all human beings are born equal. Kenyans through their Government have signed and ratified International Human Rights, Civil and political Liberties, social economic and cultural rights conventions and these international laws are applicable in Kenya. Therefore the State does not give these Rights and cannot legally or lawfully take them away. Our Constitution is supposed to restate these Rights and protect them at all times.

All sovereign power in Kenya belongs to the Citizens of Kenya: All sovereign power in Kenya belongs to the Citizens of Kenya. Citizens exercise this power through the Constitution of the Republic of Kenya. The Constitution is the supreme Law of the Republic that binds all State Organs at all levels of Government and all persons. The Citizens of Kenya may exercise their sovereign power either directly or through their democratically elected representatives, but the sovereign power at all times belongs to the Citizens of Kenya. Everything must be for the good of Kenyan Citizens.

When people live or work together, they agree on how they will run their affairs: Kenya is a defined geographical territory under one government and one set of laws, with its own currency, army, national symbols, system of taxation, etc. It is sovereign – that is, it is politically independent from other states and not subject to outside control. The people who live in Kenya are either citizens of Kenya or citizens of other states legally permitted to live and/or work in Kenya. When people live or work together, they need to agree on how they will run their affairs. In a political state, as well as in some organisations, this agreement takes the form of a CONSTITUTION.

The legislature, the executive and the judiciary: The Kenyan governmentis the machinery through which the state operates. It is made up of the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. The legislature makes laws, the executive enforces them and the judiciary interprets and applies them. In a democratic society, the purpose of a lawfully elected government is to carry out the people’s will.

In a democracy, citizens share the job of governing their state: A good description of the meaning of democracy is that given by Abraham Lincoln, the US President who abolished slavery in America, in his famous Gettysburg Address, read at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on November 19, 1863, during the American Civil War: ‘a government of the people, by the people, for the people.’ This implies that in a democracy, citizens share the job of governing their state. Some citizens serve in institutions set up by the Constitution and other laws under the Constitution.  But these citizens are not special – they only have special duties and responsibilities to the rest of their fellow citizens.  Most people know democracy as a form of government in which policy is decided by the favourite choice of the majority, usually by elections or referendum, open to its citizens.  And the policy is implemented by the citizens who work in State institutions.

The Goals of a Democratic Society: Democracy dictates that the following goals are achieved in a democratic Society:-

  • The greatest possible freedom for all;
  • A just society;
  • The same rules for all;
  • Equality before the law;
  • Respect for the rule of law; and
  • Equal opportunities for all.

Democracy needs open-mindedness and agreement between the citizens: In a democracy, cooperation by Citizens is needed, because elections divide the population into ‘winners’ and ‘losers’. It is implied that whoever loses, allows the winners to take power peacefully and without argument. Democracy needs open-mindedness and agreement between the citizens, especially when one group is bigger than all the others. In a democracy, such a majority should not ignore the wishes and needs of members of smaller groups or minorities. Minorities include not just ethnic groups but disadvantaged and people with disabilities. At all times Citizens must act in the interest of their fellow Citizens, that way Citizens will guarantee their own interests.

Every citizen shares the responsibility for civic awareness: Democracy involves providing opportunities for all citizens without discrimination, and sometimes it also means helping some people – those disadvantaged by history, physical disability, or by factors that they can not control such as natural disasters. Democracy also asks citizens to do certain things or make sure that certain things are done. For example, every citizen shares the responsibility for civic awareness, democratic care, and working together for the good of the country.  This very important particularly now that the Harmonised Draft Constitution is now a public document open for public comment.

Democracy provides a base for honesty, fairness and equality: In a democracy, everyone is equal. Democracy turns away any forms of bias and provides a base for honesty, fairness and equality. Justice is a set of rules that provide each person in humanity with basic rights. These include: Human rights, the rule of law, Economic justice, and Gender fairness.

Rule of Law: The idea of the ‘rule of law’ is based on the idea of government by law. This means that no one is above the law; this basically means that all Kenyans are equal before the law and are subject to it. So no one can be punished unless they have broken the law and have been tried through the proper legal process. So, Leaders have to abide by the law. Any Kenyan who makes choices has to make them according to the say so of the law.

All Kenyans are equal before the law and are subject to it: From the President and the Prime Minister and their deputies to the citizen with no public position: Also, the law should apply to everyone equally without any favouritism on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, religion, political association, colour, disability, social status and other physical or social characteristics.

Economic justice means that Kenyan citizens can get rich legally: Economic justice is the equal sharing, distribution and allocation of socio-economic wealth among all citizens.  Economic justice means that Kenyan citizens can get rich legally for the good of the individual and/or for the common good. It requires the state to be fair when allocating public resources for development.  Economic justice includes the right to:

  • Fair and favourable conditions of work;
  • Equal pay for work of equal value;
  • The right to form and belong to a trade union;
  • The right to go on a strike; and
  • The right to enjoy social security.

Citizens give their authority through their elected representatives to be taxed through their income and consumption. The taxes collected by the State are meant to benefit

Fundamental Freedoms and Rights protected by the current Constitution of Kenya:

  • The right to life,
  • The right to personal freedom,
  • Protection against slavery and forced labour,
  • Protection from inhuman treatment,
  • Protection from property being taken away illegally,
  • Protection against illegal search or entry,
  • The right to the protection of the law,
  • Freedom of conscience,
  • Freedom of expression,
  • Freedom of association and assembly,
  • Freedom of movement, and
  • Freedom from discrimination

The Harmonised Draft Constitution restates these rights and adds further categories of rights including political, economic, social and cultural fundamental rights.

Political freedom is the ability to:

* the right to participate in political activity without restriction

* hold your own views and talk about what you think and believe,

* relate and socialize

* Move freely without obstruction.

Economic freedom is:

* the ability to own and use property,

* the chance to work and provide for your living, and

* Freedom from forced labour and slavery.

Social freedom is:

* Treating people fairly,

* Privacy

* No cruel treatment.

These democratic freedoms are found in Chapter 6 “The Bill Of Rights” in the Harmonised Draft Constitution of Kenya.

Nothing in the Constitution can take away any of your Rights: The Bill of Rights is essential reading if citizens wish to understand the Draft Constitution. Nothing in the Constitution can take away any of your Rights. The Constitution creates State Organs and delegates Authority to State organs in order to enhance and protect the Rights of Citizens. Nothing in the Constitution can take Sovereign power away from the Citizens of Kenya.  All delegated power is exercised on behalf of the Citizens who elect and choose those who they wish to exercise that power on their behalf.

Constitution is not meant to benefit Politicians at the expense of Citizens: The Constitution is not meant to benefit Politicians at the expense of Citizens. It is therefore important for Citizens to understand the Draft for themselves and not be swayed by Politicians. At the end it is Kenyans who will decide what they want at the referendum. We need a Constitution that will determine how we want to live together as Citizens and how we wish to be governed.

Are we satisfied with what the draft has to say on these views?

Therefore, when reading the Draft, all Citizens must ask the question, “does this provision protect my Rights? Does this provision enhance my Rights?”The test must at all times be whether you the Citizen of Kenya are in charge of your affairs.  Has the Draft addressed the views of Kenyans collected by the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission in 2002? Are we satisfied with what the draft has to say on these views? What do you want added or removed from the Draft?

Send your views to the Committee of Experts on Constitutional review at the contacts below:

Delta House, Chiromo road, Westlands, Nairobi Kenya.

P.O Box 8703 – 00200

Telephone: 020 443 214 – 16

Email: info@coekenya.go.ke

www.coekenya.go.ke

Here is a Summary of Kenyan Views on the Constitution and the chapters where these views are reflected in the Harmonised Draft Constitution

(Summary of Kenyan views as reported in September 2002 by the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission)

1. Give us the chance to live a decent life: with our fundamental needs of food, water, clothing, shelter, security and basic education met by our own efforts and the assistance of government

Read Chapter 6 of the harmonised draft constitution to see what provisions have been provided by the draft on this view

2. We want a fair system of access to land for the future and justice for the wrongs of the past

Read Chapter 7 of the harmonised draft constitution to see what provisions have been provided by the draft on this view

3. Let us have more control over the decisions that affect our lives, bring government closer to us – and let us understand better the decisions we can’t make ourselves but which affect us deeply

Read Chapter 14 of the harmonised draft constitution to see what provisions have been provided by the draft on this view

4. We don’t want power concentrated in the hands of one person

Read Chapter 12 of the harmonised draft constitution to see what provisions have been provided by the draft on this view

5. We want our MPs to work hard, respect us and our views – and we want the power to kick them out if they don’t

Read Chapter 11 of the harmonised draft constitution to see what provisions have been provided by the draft on this view

6. We want to be able to choose leaders who have qualities of intelligence, integrity and sensitivity that make them worthy to lead us.

Read Chapter 9 of the harmonised draft constitution to see what provisions have been provided by the draft on this view

Read Chapter 10 of the harmonised draft constitution to see what provisions have been provided by the draft on this view

7. We want an end to corruption

Read Chapter 9 of the harmonised draft constitution to see what provisions have been provided by the draft on this view

8. We want police who respect citizens – so they can be respected by them

Read Chapter 17 of the harmonised draft constitution to see what provisions have been provided by the draft on this view

9. We want women to have equal rights and gender equity

Read Chapter 6 of the harmonised draft constitution to see what provisions have been provided by the draft on this view

10. We want children to have a future worth looking forward to – including orphans and street children

Read Chapter 6 of the harmonised draft constitution to see what provisions have been provided by the draft on this view

11. We want respect and decent treatment for the disabled.

Read Chapter 6 of the harmonised draft constitution to see what provisions have been provided by the draft on this view

12. We want all communities to be respected and free to observe their cultures and beliefs

Read Chapter 5 of the harmonised draft constitution to see what provisions have been provided by the draft on this view

Read Chapter 6 of the harmonised draft constitution to see what provisions have been provided by the draft on this view

13. We assert our rights to hold all sections of our government accountable – and we want honest and accessible institutions to ensure this accountability

Read Chapter 5 of the harmonised draft constitution to see what provisions have been provided by the draft on this view

Read Chapter 9 of the harmonised draft constitution to see what provisions have been provided by the draft on this view

Read Chapter 15 of the harmonised draft constitution to see what provisions have been provided by the draft on this view

Read Chapter 16 of the harmonised draft constitution to see what provisions have been provided by the draft on this view

Read Chapter 18 of the harmonised draft constitution to see what provisions have been provided by the draft on this view

Down Load the harmonised Draft Constitution here