Obama Accused of Supporting Abortion in Kenyan Constitution

The Obama administration had used education aid dollars for Kenya to support a draft constitution that could increase Kenyans’ access to abortion, three Republican lawmakers have claimed.

The three lawmakers allege that the Obama administration is supporting the “yes” campaign to approve Kenya’s draft constitution, which they say contains language that hints at providing greater access to abortion and abortion-related services, The Associated Press reports.

Reps. Chris Smith (R-N.Y.), Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) based their comments on a report on U.S.-funded Kenyan organizations. The report, which the three requested from the U.S. Agency for International Development’s oversight office, found that nine of the more than 200 U.S. aid sub-grantees in the country supported the “yes” campaign.

The U.S. embassy in Nairobi denied the allegations.

“We don’t fund the ‘yes’ campaign, but around the region, not just in Kenya, through USAID, we support constitutional democratic reforms,” a spokesperson for the agency said, explaining that the embassy already suspended the nine grants.

The spokesperson added that the grants were originally designed to support civic educations and democratic and constitutional reforms but that their primary contractors gave sub-grants to groups not approved by the embassy.

Smith called on the administration to withdraw funding that is being used to influence the outcome of the Kenyan referendum on the new constitution, which is scheduled Aug. 4.

“The draft constitution, with its controversial provisions expanding access to abortion, is a matter for the Kenyan people to consider and decide,” Smith argued. “The Obama administration should immediately withdraw all U.S. taxpayer funding used to buy votes and influence the outcome on the referendum.”

The Siljander Amendment, a part of the U.S. law, makes it illegal to use foreign aid to lobby support for or against abortion.

About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.