Tuesday May 11, 2010

Lawmakers Seek Probe of Obama Admin Push for Pro-Abort Kenyan Constitution

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 11, 2010 ( – A federal probe into whether the Obama Administration broke federal laws by promoting a proposed constitution that radically changes abortion policy in Kenya has been requested by three high ranking lawmakers with congressional oversight responsibilities.

In a letter to Inspectors General of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Government Accountability Office, Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) said: “Kenya’s new proposed constitution, which will be subject to a public referendum in August 2010, includes two articles that, if adopted, would enshrine a new constitutional right to abortion in Kenya and dramatically change Kenya’s abortion law.”

“The Obama Administration’s advocacy in support of Kenya’s proposed constitution may constitute a serious violation of the Siljander Amendment and, as such, may be subject to civil and criminal penalties under the Antideficiency Act,” the lawmakers wrote.

The Siljander Amendment, language annually included in the State, Foreign Operations Appropriations Act, reads: “None of the funds made available under this Act may be used to lobby for or against abortion.” Violations are subject to civil and criminal penalties under the Antideficiency Act, 31 U.S.C. § 1341.

Rep. Smith pointed out that the State Department “has pledged to spend $2 million to build support for the proposed constitution.” “Abortion is violence against children and exploits women,” he added.

“Kenya’s current constitution includes no reference to abortion and abortion is not legally permitted in Kenya except to save the life of the mother,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter requesting a probe. “Any expression of support for or opposition to the proposed new constitution … unavoidably involves lobbying for or against abortion.”

The lawmakers say the matter is “particularly salient given the prominence of the abortion issue in the public debate over the referendum,” noting that the chairman of Kenya’s Committee of Experts on Constitutional Review identified abortion as “one of the four most contentious issues in the proposed constitution.”

Smith, the leading Republican on the House Africa and Global Health Subcommittee, was joined by Ros-Lehtinen, the Ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Issa, the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee. All three Members of Congress have broad legal oversight jurisdiction concerning Federal international funds.


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