By James Tillman
WASHINGTON, DC, August 6, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - On Thursday, President Obama praised Kenya for approving a controversial new constitution that liberalizes abortion laws and that partially implements Muslim Sharia law within Kenya's borders.
"This was a significant step forward for Kenya's democracy," President Obama stated, "and the peaceful nature of the election was a testament to the character of the Kenyan people."
The new constitution was approved by about 70% of voters. It permits abortion for the sake of the "health" of the mother - a term that opponents of unborn rights admit can be "broadly interpreted when need be" to help bring about abortion on demand.
It also carves out legal space for Muslim khadi courts, which handle family issues in accord with Sharia law. Only about 12% of Kenya is Muslim.
President Obama stated that his administration had been "pleased to support Kenya's democratic development and the Kenyan people, including through the visit of Vice President Biden earlier this year."
During Vice President Biden's trip he promised that the approval of the new Kenyan constitution would "allow money to flow" to Kenya from foreign aid treasuries.
The Obama administration has spent about $23 million supporting the new constitution, a move that some congressmen have contested violates the Siljander amendment, a statute that prohibits the federal government from lobbying for or against abortion with foreign aid funds.
Marie Smith of the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues (PNCI) has said that other countries have "really [tried] to impose an ideology and an agenda on" Kenya.
President Obama, however, asserted that the large margin by which the constitution was approved reflected Kenyans' desires for "improved governance, greater stability, and increased prosperity."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also congratulated Kenya for the outcome of the referendum.
Human Life International (HLI) spokesman Joseph Meany told OneNewsNow that, as advocates of the constitution said that it would not liberalize abortion laws, pro-life groups have the right to demand that such promises are kept.
"Pro-lifers will be proposing pro-life amendments to say, 'Look - this constitution makes it look like abortion is going to be legalized, so we need to amend that, and everybody here has agreed that there shouldn't be abortion, so let's do it,’” he said.
A majority of Kenyans are pro-life.
Ending his statement, President Obama said that Kenyans "will be able to take advantage of this historic opportunity to move their country forward."
He concluded: "As Kenya’s close friend and partner, the United States will work with the international community to support the implementation process, and to stand with the Kenyan people as they reach for a better future."
See related stories on LifeSiteNews.com:
Kenyan Voters Approve Pro-Abortion Constitution