Washington Roundup: Did the Obama administration spend taxpayer dollars illegally promoting the pro-abortion draft constitution that would have Kenya join the ranks of those nations that allow virtually unlimited abortions? That’s what three members of Congress want to know, and they are seeking a federal investigation to find out. US Ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger called last month 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.In a letter to Inspectors General of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Reps. Chris Smith of New Jersey, Darrell Issa of California and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida outline their concerns.
“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,” they write.The lawmakers wrote, “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.”
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.Before the revised constitution can come into force, it must be approved by popular vote — expected in July or August.“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 pro-life Republican lawmakers said.
They added that “any expression of support for or opposition to the proposed new constitution (including by drafting, offering technical advice or providing foreign assistance of any kind that is designed to influence public approval in the upcoming plebiscite) unavoidably involves lobbying for or against abortion.”In the letter, provided by Smith’s office , they said, “This concern is particularly salient given the prominence of the abortion issue in the public debate over the referendum. In fact, the chairman of Kenya’s Committee of Experts on Constitutional Review (the “Committee of Experts”) has identified abortion as one of the four most contentious issues in the proposed constitution.”
Smith also pointed out, “the State Department has pledged to spend $2 million to build support for the proposed constitution. Abortion is violence against children and exploits women.”Lobbying for or against abortion is prohibited under a provision of federal law known as the Siljander Amendment annually included in the State, Foreign Operations Appropriations Act.
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.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.The letter went to Gene L. Dodaro, Acting Comptroller General of the U.S. Government Accountability Office; Harold W. Geisel, Acting Inspector General, U.S. Department of State, Office of Inspector General, and to; Donald A. Gambatesa, Inspector General of the U.S. Agency for International Development