Taita Taveta County Woman Representative Joyce Lay was on the verge of tears as she narrated to the National Assembly her experience in attempts to have a child through adoption.
Lay had to pause several times as she was seconding debate on the In-Vitro-Fertilization Bill which seeks to formalise the alternative modes of conception through the establishment of an authority.
“I was forced to go through adoption, a process that has taken almost four years. It is such a painful issue… that other women have to go through the back doors to make sure that the birth certificate or the notification of birth comes out with their name,” she said.
“Because I declared I want to be a leader I decided to follow the legal process, I didn’t care how long it was going to take. I wanted it to be clean and clear so that after that we change the laws (and) make sure that no other woman goes through what I went through, to make sure that no other woman will go through the pain of going through the court and lawyers and paying even more money to adopt a child of your own.”
She told of how difficult it was for Kenyan women who were unable for one reason or another to bear their own children.
IVF involves joining a woman’s egg and a man’s sperm in a laboratory dish and transferring the resulting embryo to the woman’s womb.
The Bill sponsored by Mbita MP Millie Odhiambo will also make provisions in relation to children born of in-vitro fertilization process and other assisted reproduction methods.
She acknowledged that the process was an expensive affair and without any guarantees.
“I have met women who have cried before, they don’t want to go through ‘panya route’ to have children and they have given me the horrors they have gone through while trying to get assisted reproduction. Many of them have tried three times, four times or six times and the average cost was about Sh300,000 per session. Some of them have gone up to South Africa where to be hospitalized women spend as much as Sh1 million trying to have a child and the money is not refundable if it does not work and they have to spend such an amount all over again,” she said.
The Health Committee chairperson Rachael Nyamai and her Deputy Robert Pukose opposed the Bill saying it was contrary to other legal and policy frameworks.
Pukose said that the procedure was already recognised in the national health system as an assisted reproductive technology.
“The policy of government doesn’t envision the creation of an authority to regulate a single technology – in this case IVF, but through a single body to regulate health products and technologies and that’s where we differ with Odhiambo’s Bill,” he explained.
Nyamai tried to convince MPs to withdraw the Bill promising that the much awaited Health Bill would be tabled in the House soon.
Health CS James Macharia met Nyamai’s Committee on Tuesday and assured them that the Bill was with the Attorney General after it received Cabinet approval last Thursday.
Women MPs spoke out on the challenges they personally faced in their quest for motherhood. They told of how difficult it was for Kenyan women who were unable for one reason or another to bear their own children.
Male MPs also supported the Bill with same rubbishing assurances by the Health CS and Nyamai that the Health Bill will be brought to the House in two weeks time. They cited that they have been waiting for the Bill for the last two years without success.
Debate on the In Vitro-Fertilization Bill will resume next week after the House adjourned.