The quest for human dignity in the ethics of pregnancy termination : a theological-ethical evaluation of the church's approach in Kenya

Obengo, Tom Joel (2013-12)

Thesis (MTh)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study describes and analyses the problem of termination of pregnancy, with special attention to its prevalence in Kenya, where more than seven hundred abortions are performed daily on girls between fifteen and seventeen years of age. Although pregnancy termination is illegal in Kenya, its practice goes on in the rural villages, in homes, in urban streets and in private clinics. The research focuses on the ethical quest for human dignity in the context of the church’s response to the challenge of termination of pregnancy. It examines the perceptions and attitudes of various cadres of Christians, such as church ministers, doctors and lawyers, towards the problem. The study has been mainly through literature review of books, journals, magazines and newspapers, as well as through structured interviews and focus group discussions in Kisumu County of Kenya. Various viewpoints have been discussed and analysed with regard to the problem. The research proposes Martin Benjamin’s ethical theory of compromise as the most suitable means by which the church in Kenya can approach the challenge of termination of pregnancy. The theory finds support from Norman Geisler’s theory of graded absolutism as well as from a biblical analysis. Through the compromise theory, the research proposes that the church should lead in public advocacy for legalising pregnancy termination within the first six weeks of pregnancy in order to deal with pregnancies arising out of rape and incest. Findings from structured interviews and focused group discussions support the current legal framework that prohibits pregnancy termination, but reveal a desire for change in the way the church deals with members who get unplanned pregnancies and those who terminate the same. The research suggests, in addition, that the church’s role should emphasize counselling, teaching and pastoral care, rather than ex-communication and public rebuke. The church should avoid activism which seeks to keep abortion illegal at the expense of numerous Kenyans who do not necessarily submit to the church’s position. Within the church, and among those whom the church seeks to convert, the researcher upholds the church’s teaching of chastity and abstinence as the most effective preventive measures against abortion. The thesis proposes these measures as the means to ensuring human dignity within the church in relation to the ethical challenge of termination of pregnancy.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie beskryf en ontleed die probleem van die beëindiging van swangerskap, met spesiale aandag aan die voorkoms daarvan in Kenia, waar meer as sewe-honderd aborsies daagliks uitgevoer word op meisies tussen vyftien en sewentien jaar oud. Hoewel swangerskap-beëindiging onwettig is in Kenia, vind dit steeds plaas in die plattelandse dorpies, in huise, in stedelike strate en in private klinieke. Die navorsing fokus op die etiese strewe na menswaardigheid in die lig van die kerk se reaksie op die uitdaging van die beëindiging van swangerskap. Dit ondersoek die persepsies en houdings van verskillende kaders van Christene, soos predikante, dokters en prokureurs, ten opsigte van die probleem. Die studie is hoofsaaklik gedoen deur ‘n literatuuroorsig van boeke, artikels, koerante en tydskrifte, sowel as deur middel van gestruktureerde onderhoude en fokus-groep besprekings in die distrik van Kisumu, Kenia. Verskillende standpunte word bespreek en ontleed met betrekking tot die probleem. Die navorsing stel Martin Benjamin se etiese teorie van kompromie voor as die mees geskikte manier waarop die kerk in Kenia die uitdaging van die beëindiging van swangerskap kan benader. Die teorie word ondersteun deur Norman Geisler se teorie van gegradeerde absolutisme sowel as deur 'n Bybelse analise. Deur die kompromie-teorie stel die navorsing voor dat die kerk leiding moet neem in openbare voorspraak vir die wettiging van swangerskap-beëindiging binne die eerste ses weke van swangerskappe wat voortspruit uit verkragting en bloedskande. Bevindinge van gestruktureerde onderhoude en gefokusde groepbesprekings ondersteun die huidige regsraamwerk wat swangerskap-beëindiging verbied, maar openbaar 'n begeerte vir 'n verandering in die manier waarop die kerk optree teenoor lede wat onbepland swanger raak en diegene wat aborsies kry. Die navorsing dui verder daarop dat die kerk se rol eerder moet fokus op berading, onderrig en pastorale sorg, as op ekskommunikasie en openbare teregwysing. Die kerk moet aktivisme vermy wat poog om aborsie onwettig te hou ten koste van die talle Keniane wat hulle nie noodwendig aan die kerk onderwerp nie. Binne die kerk, en onder diegene wat die kerk wil bekeer, ondersteun die navorser die kerk se lering van kuisheid en onthouding as die mees doeltreffende voorkomende maatreëls teen aborsie. Die tesis stel hierdie maatreëls voor as middele om menswaardigheid, met betrekking tot die etiese uitdaging van die beëindiging van swangerskap, binne die kerk te verseker.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/85670
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