Communications Department

Proposed Constitution in Kenya Allows Abortion on Demand

Aug 3, 2010 | 2010 Press Releases

WASHINGTON — Media reports regarding the proposed constitution in Kenya, which goes before the country for a vote on Wednesday, continue to misrepresent the proposed document’s impact on the country’s abortion policy. 

“Many in the media are falsely reporting that the new constitution would not allow abortion except ‘where the life of the mother is in danger,'” explained Jeanne E. Head, R.N., National Right to Life Vice President for International Affairs and United Nations Representative.  “The truth is actually the opposite.”

The language in the proposed constitution does not contain any meaningful restrictions on abortion, despite recognition of the right to life from conception. Section 26 contains language which allows abortion when in the
“opinion of a trained health professional, there is need for emergency treatment, or the life or health of the mother is in danger, or if permitted by any other written law.”

This is a reversal of previous Kenyan law on abortion which required the opinion of two medical doctors who were in agreement that an abortion was necessary to save the life of the mother.

The  broad “health” exceptions in the proposed constitution would essentially mean abortion on demand.  A similar health exception was used in the United States Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Boltondecisions. Those rulings gave the United States a policy of legal abortion for virtually any reason throughout the entire length of pregnancy. The result has been the death of more than 52 million unborn children in the United States since 1973.

In New York state which allows state funding of  so-called ‘medically necessary’ abortions, unlike the federal government and most states, the result is between 43,000 and 52,000 state-funded abortions of unborn childrenevery year.

An amendment to the Kenyan constitution was proposed that would have replaced the current pro-abortion language with language to allow medical procedures necessary to prevent the death of a pregnant woman. In those very rare cases, the mother can usually be saved in a manner that also gives the child a chance to survive.

“As an obstetric nurse who cared for women delivering their babies for more than 44 years, I can say I never saw a case in which it was necessary to directly attack and kill the unborn child to protect the health of the mother,” Head noted.

International law does not require that countries legalize abortion, despite attempts by some to establish abortion as a fundamental right worldwide. No country is required to legalize abortion under any international treaty or conference.

“The reason we have not seen a significant decrease in maternal mortality is not because some countries haven’t legalized abortion,” Head added. “The problem is that valuable resources have been directed toward promoting abortion and decreasing the number of children women deliver, rather than making the delivery of their children safe.”

A wealth of evidence shows conclusively that the key to reducing maternal mortality is not to legalize abortion, but rather to improve nutrition, basic health care, prenatal care, and good basic and emergency obstetric care.

“If approved, the new constitution would legalize abortion in Kenya, which would dramatically increase the number of abortions and lead to more women hurt and unborn children killed, just as Roe v. Wade has done in the U.S.,” Head concluded.

Jeanne E. Head, R.N. is available to provide further comment and analysis on the proposed Kenyan constitution from National Right to Life’s New York office.  To arrange an interview, contact the NRLC Communications Department at (202) 626-8825 or email

The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) is the nation’s largest pro-life group with affiliates in all 50 states and over 3,000 local chapters nationwide.