U.S. Vice President Joe Biden travelled to Kenya to personally urge the country to pass a new constitution that would legalize abortion – and to assure Kenyans that such a change would “allow money to flow” from foreign aid treasuries.
At the same time, a federal probe is attempting to determine whether the Obama Administration is violating federal law by using taxpayer money to lobby for the constitution, deeply controversial in Kenya in large part because of its abortion provisions.
“We are hopeful, Barack Obama is hopeful, I am hopeful that you will carry out these reforms to allow money to flow,” Biden told a crowd of Kenyans, among whom President Obama is extremely popular and touted as a native son of their country.
A clause in the proposed constitution has received heavy criticism from religious leaders in Kenya for allowing abortion when a mother’s “health” is endangered – a term that, as abortion advocates admitted at the Women Deliver conference in Washington, D.C. last week, “can be broadly interpreted when need be.”
Asked about the abortion issue, Biden told Rev. Timothy Njoya not to “confuse that with the position of the US President, US Vice President and US Government,” according to Kenya’s Daily Nation.
Yet some are not so sure that such a line can be drawn. Last month, 3 U.S. congressmen with legal oversight jurisdiction over federal international funds launched a probe into whether the Obama administration is violating federal law by promoting the controversial constitution.
“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,” wrote Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) in a May 6 letter to Inspectors General of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
The Siljander Amendment of 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.”
The lawmakers pointed out that the abortion issue is prominent in the public debate over the proposed document, and 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.”
Rep. Smith said that as much as $10 million in taxpayer funds may have been spent in support of the pro-abortion constitution as of May.