Report: Obama Has Spent $23 Million Backing Pro-Abortion Kenya Constitution
by Steven Ertelt
July 19, 2010
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) – A new report issued by the Inspector General (IG) for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) reveals the Obama administration has spent over $23 million for activities in Kenya to influence voters there to support a new constitution that would allow virtually unlimited abortions.
The nation currently protects women and unborn children from abortions, but a constitution voters will consider on August 4 would change the historic pro-life laws of the African nation.
Rep. Chris Smith, a key pro-life congressman who is the Ranking Member of the Africa and Global Health Subcommittee, has been working with other lawmakers and the IG’s office to investigate grants the Obama administration has provided to Kenyan groups promoting the Yes vote campaign for the new constitution.
In a new report Smith released to LifeNews.com on Friday, he says U.S. taxpayers are now footing the bill for those pro-abortion efforts to the tune of $23 million, far above previous estimates.
Previous estimates had indicated that $2 million was being spent, then that was updated to $11 million and now the figure identified by the IG’s office exceeds $23 million, he said.
“The Obama Administration should not be spending $23 million in American tax dollars on the specific “Yes” campaign, pushing a determined outcome on the proposed constitution in Kenya,” Smith said.
“The U.S. government can be supportive of the process, helping to secure a free and fair referendum. But we must respect the Kenyan people and let them decide for themselves. U.S. dollars should not be used to tell the Kenyan people how to vote," he added.
The U.S. Embassy in Kenya on Friday admitted that it has provided about $11 million in support of the constitution process and an internal investigation found nine of more than 200 subgrantees supported the pro-abortion constitution. Embassy officials claimed those grants have either been suspended or concluded, essentially admitting the Obama administration has been funding such groups.
As LifeNews.com reported on Monday, the United States embassy in Kenya issued a statement saying the administration of President Barack Obama is not spending taxpayer dollars funding a campaign to support a pro-abortion Constitution Kenya voters will consider at the polls next month.
After publishing a news story compiling the developments over the last two months that LifeNews.com has chronicled, Fox News received a response from pro-abortion Vice Presdient Joe Biden’s office denying funding.
"Requests for comment sent to the vice president’s office were not initially returned, but following the original publication of this story, Biden’s press secretary, in an e-mail, stressed that while in Kenya the vice president reiterated that it is up the people to decide about their country’s constitution," the television news station indicated.
Smith says the information the IG’s office has revealed reinforces concern that the Obama administration is financially supporting groups and activities that are advocating for abortion in the context of the draft constitution.
Smith said the IG’s list shows that “U.S. tax dollar monies are flying out the door to pro-abortion groups committed to overturning pro-life laws in Kenya.” He documented some groups getting funds and outlined new ones on Friday.
He pointed to the Kenyan Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA-Kenya), which, as a member of the Kenyan Reproductive Health and Rights Alliance (RHRA), is committed to increasing the availability of abortion and the decriminalization of abortion in the country.
FIDA-Kenya helped to draft controversial legislation and launched a campaign in 2008 to liberalize Kenya’s abortion law. Under the U.S. law, such actions should make FIDA-Kenya and similar organizations ineligible for civic education assistance related to the draft constitution. The group is supported by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and received $85,363 from USAID for advocacy activities related to the draft constitution.
Smith also says the Obama administration has recently financially supported Committee of Experts on Constitutional Review in Kenya, which drafted the abortion-related provisions in the proposed constitution. It received $180,000.
The Committee rejected the life of the mother only exception to abortion inserted into the draft constitution by a Parliamentary committee, and added a “health” exception to abortion. It is commonly known that health exceptions to abortion often lead to abortion on demand owing to the broad definition of health that includes socio-economic reasons as exemplified in the US Supreme Court decision on abortion in 1973.
The African Woman and Child Features Service, a media non-governmental organization backing abortion and the constitution, received nearly $157,000 for constitution-related activities, including “advocacy and lobbying meetings with reform bodies at national level.”
Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI), which is receiving almost $3 million as a primary grant recipient, advised USAID in 2000 that USAID/Kenya would benefit by supporting civil society organizations that are advocating for “efforts to eventually legalize abortion in Kenya.”
While acknowledging that such activity would be “politically sensitive,” DAI suggested that USAID might support local advocacy groups in their efforts as part of USAID’s democracy and governance strategic objectives component that supports civic society organizations.
Smith stressed that the United States can and should be supportive of “a fair, free and non-violent” process and civic education, but not work for a specific outcome.
“We should be embracing the health and welfare of both mothers and children in African while respecting sovereign pro-life laws. Instead, the Obama Administration is trying to change Kenya’s existing restriction on abortion through the referendum," Smith added. "Such actions constitute a violation of U.S. law and is an affront to both the pro-life people of Kenya and the US, an overwhelming majority of whom do not support abortion, and in the case of the US—do not want their tax dollars to pay for abortion activities."
In a May letter to the IGs at the State Department and USAID, Smith, and Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18), the Ranking Member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Darrell Issa (CA-49), the Ranking Member on the House Oversight Committee, called for investigations into potentially illegal funding to promote the proposed pro-abortion Kenyan constitution.
Such promotion would violate a statutory restriction known as the Siljander Amendment that no USAID and State Department funds “may be used to lobby for or against abortion.”
The amendment reads, “None of the funds made available under this Act may be used to lobby for or against abortion,” and violations are subject to civil and criminal penalties under the Antideficiency Act, 31 U.S.C. § 1341."
Obama himself has promoted the new constitution in an interview in early June with the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC).
He called voting for the document a "singular opportunity to put the government of Kenya on solid footing" and urged Kenyans to"take advantage of the moment."
Obama tried to couch his language in neutral impartiality, saying "Regardless of whether they vote Yes or No I just want to make sure that they participate,’ but he extolled the virtues of the document to the KBC saying it will promote human rights.
And in May, US Ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger called on the African nation’s political leaders to rally the people to pass the referendum.
Ranneberger issued a statement praising the Kenya parliament for passing the proposed constitution and urging President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to rally support for it.
He also suggested the Obama administration would fund a national campaign to persuade the people to adopt the document.
Although the draft contains language advocating the right to life for unborn children, it contains a section with a health exception that essentially opens the nation to unlimited abortions throughout pregnancy for any reason.
Joseph Meaney of Human Life International weighed in on the constitution saying it violates the views of most Kenyans who are pro-life.
"Kenyans are pro-life," he said. "When we see the new articles added to the constitution and approved by parliament under heavy pressure from Western elites, we are seeing an assault on the very heart of the Kenyan people."
"Perhaps the greatest insult is that this attack is happening under the banner of ‘improving women’s health’. The only ones who believe that killing an unborn child is good for a woman’s health are those who will profit from the slaughter, Western powers who are pouring untold millions of dollars into measures to keep Africa’s children from being born," he told LifeNews.com.
"This is nothing but population control, an imperialist assault intended to rob Africa of its future by eliminating her children. It is a disgrace," he said.
A poll conducted March 21–26 by the polling firm Synovate, formerly known as Steadman, shows the citizens of Kenya are overwhelmingly pro-life.
“Thinking about abortion, which of the following is closest to your view?” the firm asked respondents.
Some 69 percent of Kenya residents are against legalizing abortions while just 9 percent support it. Another 16 percent say it doesn’t matter while 6 percent said they had no opinion.
Answering the question, “When do you believe human life begins?” 77 percent of Kenyans stated that life begins at conception, while 19 percent stated that human life begins at the time of birth.
Respondents were also asked about their views concerning the new Kenyan Constitution and the question found only 19 percent support it as currently written, while a majority, 52 percent, want Parliament to revise the document before passage.
Scott Fischbach, the director of MMCL Go, an international pro-life outreach, provided the polling results to LifeNews.com.
"Currently, advocates of abortion are using the issue of maternal mortality and illegal abortions to argue for legalization of the procedure. However, the answer to illegal abortions and high maternal mortality rates is very simple: provide hope, opportunity and support for pregnant women by insuring a clean water supply, clean blood supply and adequate health care," he said.
"Kenya is a pro-life country and ought not to head toward an abortion-on-demand policy in its new Constitution," he added.
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