In the News 2015
CAJ News Africa

Catholics, Obama in collision course ahead of Kenya trip

A Christian organisation has alleged agents of the Kenyan government tore down a billboard expressing concern about the Helms Amendment, an American policy that it believes puts the health, welfare and lives of Kenyan women at risk.

The action comes ahead of the United States President Barack Obama’s visit to Kenya.

The billboard on Chiromo Road was sponsored by the international organization Catholics for Choice in partnership with Reproductive Health Services Kenya.

It called on President Obama and his administration to act now—after six and a half years of inaction—to revise this “cruel and unjust” policy.

The Helms Amendment acts as a complete ban on using US foreign assistance for any abortion care or counseling options for pregnancy. In practice, this prevents women in Kenya and around the world from following their conscience and getting the reproductive care they need, the Catholic believe.

With a wave of his hand, President Obama could do the right thing for countless women by clarifying this dangerous interpretation, they alleged.

“We were proud to join with the international organization Catholics for Choice because, as medical physicians caring for the people of Kenya, we know how this unjust American policy can interfere with the medical care and treatment we need to provide for the Kenyan people,” said Dr John Nyamu, the executive director of Reproductive Health Services Kenya.

“We acted in the best democratic tradition of raising issues in a constructive way in the hopes that President Obama would find the compassion to listen to the voices of Kenyan medical experts who are too aware of how the Helms Amendment can tie the hands of those of us working at the frontlines for women’s health and reproductive justice.”

Jon O’Brien, President of Catholics for Choice, said, “For the past six and a half years, I have joined, time and time again, colleagues from all over the world in meetings with key officials in the Obama administration. We know that the administration and President Obama are aware of how unjust the Helms Amendment is, but the strictest interpretation of the policy persists.”

He said Catholics for Choice and Reproductive Health Services Kenya would continue in other ways to campaign for Obama to clarify the Helms policy.

This piece was originally published by CAJ News.

Catholics for Choice