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Preacher’s anti-abortion push in limbo as billboard firm quits

Saturday May 04 2019
anti-abortion march

Activists demonstrate outside City Hall, Nairobi, on April 24, 2019 to demand the removal of all advertisement with misleading information on the constitutional right to abortion. PHOTO | AFP

By TOM OSANJO

Adopt-a-Light, the firm contracted by the anti-abortion crusader Apostle Kathy Kageni-Oganga to erect billboards in the city highlighting the dangers of the procedure, has pulled out thus throwing the entire campaign into a limbo.

A terse text from the firm associated with the Nairobi Woman Representative Esther Passaris said: “Kindly note that we are not able to continue advertising for you as per our earlier communication. I had informed you very clearly that it is not possible to continue. Thanks”

INFLAMMATORY

The advertising firm has told the preacher that it would be refunding all the monies owed so the contract can be legally terminated.

It was not clear why Adopt-a-Light stopped erecting the billboards that had been the talk of town but suffice to say that several NGOs — obviously with more spending power than Kageni-Oganga and her Sozo Church of God — had raised hackles against the billboards which they said were stigmatising women and girls seeking access to safe and legal abortion services.

Adopt-a-Light’s founder, Ms Passaris, has often made public her declaration of faith. Just before the turn of 2018, she disclosed that she had been on a fast, a practice she said she ritually followed every year.

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Back to the billboards and immediately they came down, the coalition of pro-choice NGOs went into a celebratory mood, announcing the victory.

“Success. The billboards came down in May. The Nairobi County Government responded to our request, removing the inaccurate and inflammatory anti-abortion billboards that had been erected throughout Nairobi.”

The billboards had been erected at strategic places in the CBD as well as major roads in the city including GPO, Delta House in Wetlands as well as University Way.

Some of the blood-chilling messages carrying the photo of a foetus read: “Abortion is Murder!”, “Shut down abortion clinics!”, “Your mother gave you a chance, it wasn’t easy then too. Give your baby a chance!”

MISCARRIAGE

It was such messages that the NGOs had felt were offensive and stigmatising. The 11 organisations were quoted in the local press saying that even though the law was restrictive on circumstances that allow for a pregnancy to be terminated, it was still a medical procedure that was prescribed for women.

“Women and girls may seek abortion services when they have suffered a miscarriage, when they have an ectopic pregnancy, when the foetus cannot survive outside the mother’s womb and when they suffer sexual violence,” the statement read in part.

In an earlier interview, Apostle Kageni-Oganga had expressed her hurt that many of those who are accusing her of being insensitive to the plight of women seeking abortion do not know her story.

Disclosing to the press for the first time of having been raped at 21 by a member of a bible study group she was leading, she said: “Abortion is murder and that is my stand. Even if I would have gotten pregnant from the sad act, I would have carried my baby to full term.”

Apostle Kageni-Oganga says she is not cowed by the latest turn of events, and alluding to the bible says, the “battle is not mine but the Lord’s.” Consequently she has called for a march along the city streets to support the Christians’ stand.

Meanwhile, she has got a boost after an international lobby group, CitizenGo, launched an online petition calling for support to Oganga’s cause.

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