- However, Geshohi said the Bill was received with a lot of challenges because it was misconstrued.
- The Fida programme officer urged communities to put aside culture, myth and beliefs because such a bill is good.
The Kenya Federation of Women Lawyers programme officer Elizabeth Geshohi has urged communities to embrace the Reproductive Healthcare Bill 2019.
The bill was moved by the current Nakuru Governor Susan Kihika in the 12th Parliament.
The Bill seeks to actualise the constitutional guarantee that every person has the right to the highest standard of reproductive healthcare.
However, Geshohi said the Bill was received with a lot of challenges because it was misconstrued.
"When the Bill came into the House, people did not understand it, many thought that it is all about abortion. But that was not the case," Geshoni said.
"It was supposed to be a comprehensive reproductive healthcare bill to ensure that women and girls access quality services in terms of their reproductive health rights."
She said a lot of people are losing their lives due to poor healthcare, something which gave them the impetus to focus on reproductive health.
"If you look at the Kenya Bureau of Statistics report, in 2021, we lost about 3,600 women,” she said.
"The media has a big role in educating and creating awareness in the community."
She said they are sensitising journalists so that if the bill goes back to Parliament, the media will give it good coverage so that the public can understand it better.
"According to our constitution, abortion is illegal unless, under certain circumstances that will involve a qualified healthcare practitioner who would have seen that the life of the mother is in danger or the pregnancy is not viable," she said.
She said there are women who don't understand that it is their right to access reproductive healthcare which is why there is a need for awareness to sensitise the community.
For some reason, Geshohi said that there is stigma in the community, especially among women living with disability.
Whenever they want to claim their rights to reproductive health, the community feels like they don't deserve and have no right to have families.
“That is one of our main focuses as Fida, we will continue talking about it by creating awareness through media and to service providers,” Geshoni said.
"If a woman has a disability of any kind, it does not mean that she deserves to be discriminated against because according to the constitution, women are entitled to the highest standards of healthcare the country can afford."
She said they are not advocating for abortion but life starts from conception, therefore people should scrutinise the bill and understand it.
“Abortion is always the last resolve for an individual so we get ways of creating an environment where we can discuss this issues openly and have structures and systems that support women to avoid deaths which come as a result of back door clinics,” she said.
“We are losing women who are dying due to pregnancy-related cases and this is because they don't know their rights."
Geshohi said that there are communities that don't believe that a woman should give birth in a health facility, something which she said contributes highly to the increase in mortality rate.
She said the Reproductive Healthcare Bill is also trying to fill the gaps when it comes to law.
The Fida programme officer urged communities to put aside culture, myth and beliefs because such a bill is good.
“Let us not ride on the existing misconceptions instead use our forums to discuss and interrogate these issues,” she said.
So far, 105 journalists have been trained in four counties — Nairobi, Kisumu, Mombasa and Nakuru.
“When time and funds allow, the programme will be replicated in more counties,” she said.
(Edited by Tabnacha O)