Kenyan Health Minister's Push for Abortion Criticized by Church

NAIROBI, Kenya, MARCH 5, 2003 ( The Catholic Church in Kenya assailed suggestions by Health Minister Charity Kaluki Ngilu that the government should lead public debate on abortion with a view to decriminalizing it.

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Local media quoted Ngilu last month as saying it was a gross violation of human rights to continue to deny women access to safe motherhood and abortion services, the Catholic Information Service Africa said.

«I personally feel the continued denial of women to make free choice on their reproductive health life is wrong and the policy should be reformed to allow that freedom,» she said.

The Church, in a statement issued today by the Kenya Catholic Secretariat, rejected the idea of safe abortion.

«There is nothing like ‘safe’ abortion,» the Church said, «and the idea is totally misconceived. … Life is God-given and sacred and just as much as the mother may want her human rights to be protected, the baby in her womb has human rights too.»

The Health Minister had said the government would support all efforts to improve availability and accessibility to family planning, promotion of safe motherhood and curb the spread of HIV, especially among young people.

She was speaking during the launch of the International Planned Parenthood Federation Strategic Plan 2002-2005 in Nairobi.

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