The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) skirted the ban by using grant recipients to help re-write the country’s charter. “The groups that were supported are the pro-abortion groups in Kenya – not just some group that may have an interest,” Rep. Christopher H. Smith told The Washington Times. The New Jersey Republican was one of the three members who asked government auditors to perform a full investigation of how taxpayer funds were spent.
In 2008, the government of Kenya charged a “committee of experts” with drafting a new constitution that would be presented to voters for approval. This committee’s original draft only stated that “every person has the right to life.” The International Development Law Organization (IDLO), which took $400,000 in administration cash, provided “input” to the committee. The next draft allowed abortion when the “health of the mother is in danger, or if permitted by any other written law.” This language made it to the final, ratified constitution.
The loophole essentially gives the government the freedom to grant abortion on demand. “Health can be defined to be virtually anything,” said Mr. Smith.
The Siljander Amendment, a provision of federal appropriations law, has outlawed overseas abortion lobbying since 1981. USAID told GAO that its grant recipients weren’t lobbying because the push for abortion was not direct. The constitutional committee also wasn’t a governmental entity, so USAID argued it couldn’t be lobbied. Moreover, the grant recipients and subrecipients were merely “civic education groups” that took money to correct “misunderstandings” about the abortion provision.
Mr. Smith found the bureaucrats were much more strict when he proposed a grant for the support of a pregnancy care center in the Republic of Georgia. “It was about assisting women who happened to be pregnant – it had nothing to do with lobbying for or against abortion,” said Mr. Smith. “And that was construed to be a violation of Siljander by State Department lawyers.”
It’s bad enough President Obama is pushing a hard-left agenda on the United States. He shouldn’t use taxpayer dollars to spread his “change” overseas as well.