On a cold December of 2009, a young woman was wheeled into the I.C.U. of a hospital in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya. Heavily pregnant and bleeding profusely, doctors pored and sweated over a dilemma on their hands. She was barely out of her teens; a victim of an illicit sexual affair with her uncle, and her father, a staunch religious fellow, would not allow abortion to save her, though the idea had been floated earlier on.

Now, too late for a C-section, she could not deliver normally. Well, the end of it was, Tracy died and, so did the baby in her womb. Two innocent lives that could have been saved! And that is the dilemma the African nation is facing. To abort or not to abort!

Most African nations are deep in search of an identity; constitutions are being drafted and re-drafted. Most of the constitutions in place originated from colonial masters and as it stands now, most are viewed as obsolete by the majority of politicians. (Someone remind me when the American constitution was drafted!)

Whereas it might seem a noble idea, the problem is, everyone has vested interests in the whole process. And one of the voices coming out strongly everywhere in the quest for new constitutions – is the abortion clause.

With an almost equivocal stance, the question is: when does life begin? This has been answered and replayed over and over countless times. The issues range from losing lives, to motherless children and ruined wombs. From a biased point of view, I have to admit that I am fast becoming desensitized by this whole circus. And these are the sentiments from a myriad of people across Africa. We do not condone abortion, neither do we condemn it!

A thousand and one abortions are carried out every hour; a thousand and one lives at risk! Carried out by quack doctors in backstreet clinics, not fit for pigs! The reasons vary of course, but with people like Tracy, it is a dire situation we are handling.

Kenya is one of the countries that will be holding a referendum later on this year in a bid to enact a new constitution, and the church has come out strongly as the voice against abortion amongst other frivolous things. But questions abound on the moral authority the church has bestowed upon itself to make personal decisions on the behalf of its followers. Spiritual issues are relegated to whom, then, under such circumstances?

A recent headline in a daily read, “Anglican church to vote No on proposed draft constitution”. I have no problem with the headline, but the question is, which Anglican Church? I am a member, and I am voting yes, so are millions of other Anglicans! It reminds me of the Catholic Church, which has spent billions of dollars and years advocating against use of contraceptives, yet the congregation cannot do without! What does the church take its adherents for? Mindless followers who can’t reach personal decisions and make choices?

What a momentum!

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