An investigation into U.S. funds given to Kenya during the country's 2010 constitutional referendum suggests that the Obama administration gave $400,000 to an organization that promoted increased abortion access in the country.
Congressman Chris Smith (R-N.J.), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights, said that the report “raises red flags” about the use of U.S. taxpayer money in foreign countries.
Rep. Smith argued that “at a minimum the Obama Administration ignored” the Siljander Amendment, an annually renewed law that prohibits U.S. foreign assistance funds from being used to lobby for or against abortion in other countries.
An investigation into the use of U.S. taxpayer money in Kenya surrounding the constitutional referendum was requested in May 2010 by Smith, as well as by Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
The Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress that works to improve the accountability of the federal government, conducted the investigation and released a report on Nov. 14 detailing its findings.
The report indicated that the U.S. Agency for International Development gave $400,000 to the International Development Law Organization to offer analyses to aid those working to draft and finalize Kenya's new constitution.
According to the report, the International Development Law Organization gave “advice on the issues of fetal rights and abortion, though the draft had not mentioned either issue” at that point.
The organization suggested that the Committee of Experts – those charged with drafting the constitution – “consider adding language to make clear that the fetus lacks constitutional standing, and that the rights of women under these articles therefore take priority.”
The organization also gave examples of countries in which acknowledging a fetal right to life has posed an obstacle to abortion access. It suggested that Kenya may wish to take measures to protect “the legal right of access to abortion.”
One way to do so, it said, would be to clarify in the constitution that “a person is a human being who has been born.”
Congressman Smith criticized the Obama administration’s decision to fund the International Development Law Organization.
“If this isn’t lobbying, what is?” he asked, noting that the organization continues to receive American taxpayer money to help create laws to implement the constitution.
Smith acknowledged the importance of political reform in Kenya, where approximately 1,300 people were killed and tens of thousands more displaced in violent clashes surrounding the country’s 2007 elections.
“However, this needed reform should not be used by pro-abortion groups funded by the Obama Administration to rewrite the pro-life laws of Kenya,” he said.