By Francis Ayieko
Hundreds of pro-life Christians from different churches on Saturday morning braved the rain and a chilly weather to march on the streets of Nairobi, calling for an end to abortion and demanding the closure of abortion clinics in the city.
Led by Apostle Kathy Kageni-Oganga of Sozo Church of God, Bishop Alfred Rotich of the Catholic Church, Anne Kioko of CitizenGo, and DrWahomeNgare of Kenya Christian Professionals Forum, the protestors marched from Uhuru Park through Haile Selassie Avenue, Tom Mboya Street, Cabral Street, Moi Avenue, Kenyatta Avenue, MuindiMbingu Street, and back to Uhuru Park.
The two-and-a-half-hour protest was sparked by the recent bringing down of 13 anti-abortion billboards erected in the capitalthree months ago by Apostle Kageni-Oganga-led Sozo Church of God.
The billboards had signs reading “Abortion is murder,” accompanied by an image of a foetus. Other billboards said “Shut abortion clinics” and “Your mother gave you a chance, it wasn’t easy then too. Give your baby a chance.”
Theadvertising company that owned the billboardspulled down the church’s messages after protesters marched toNairobi Governor Mike Sonko’soffice in April and gave the administration two weeks to force their removal, calling them misleading and inflammatory.
On Saturday, the protestors, accompanied by a truck mounted with loudspeakers that blared songs like DarleneZschech’sVictor’s Crown, marched on the streets of Nairobi carrying placards that read: “Abortion is murder”, “Babies have rights too”, “Speak for the unborn”, “Choose life”, “Ban Marie Stopes now”, and “Shut down abortion clinics”. In some cases, business came to a standstill as curious onlookers watched in amazement.
The protestors chanted anti-abortion slogans like “Abortion is murder”, “(Anti-abortion) billboards should stay”, “We’ll not be silenced”, “Abortion hurts women”, “Life begins at conception”, “Adoption, not abortion”, “Cleanse our land”, and “Give your child a chance”.
They stopped for about 10 minutes outside Afya Centre on Tom Mboya Street, praying and shouting: “Shutdown abortion clinics.” It is allegedthat a well-known doctor operates an abortion clinic in the building.
Their next stop was JKUAT Towers on Kenyatta Avenue where Marie Stopes, known for its promotion of abortion, has a clinic. After chanting anti-abortion slogans and demanding closure of the clinic for about 20 minutes, they knelt on the steps of the building on the ground floor and cried to God to forgive them and those who have shed innocent blood through abortion.
They then marched to City Hall Annex, thenheaded downwards, before emerging on Kenyatta Avenue at the GPO stage, and finally heading back to Uhuru Park.
Speaking just before the march started, Bishop Rotichsaid abortion is an evil that hurts both the unborn child and the mother.
“Every time an abortion happens, it takes a heartbeat and also hurts a woman. The Catholic Church has always condemned abortion as a grave evil. The Church believes that all life is sacred from conception until natural death, and the taking of innocent human life, whether born or unborn, is morally wrong,” he said, noting that no human being has a right to take away the life of another under any circumstance.
He said Jeremiah the prophet affirmed that God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: “The word of the Lord came to me thus, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you’” (Jeremiah 1:4-5).
DrNgare, himself a gynaecologist, accused fellow doctors of lying to people by defining abortion as “the termination of a pregnancy before viability”.
The right definition, he said, developed by Kenya Catholic Doctors Association and adopted by KCPF, is: Abortion is the termination of a normal pregnancy by deliberately killing the pre-born person.
He said the pulling down of the anti-abortion billboards amounted to Christian persecution. “There is an unusual intolerance to views of the Christian. The Christian is being told to keep quiet and not state what he or she believes,” he said.
He added: “Our (anti-abortion) billboards are being torn down because of our faith. We are refusing this persecution and we are going to call it by its name. Stop Christian persecution. We are also Kenyans, we have an opinion and we have a right to voice it. Nobody should gag us or tell us what to do.”
Both the Constitution of Kenya and the Penal Code have made abortion illegal.