“We must start from the simple premise that Africa’s future is up to Africans.” With these words President Obama unfurled his Africa policy to dignitaries in Ghana in July 2009. Continuing, Obama declared that though all nations should aspire to democracy:
Each nation gives life to democracy in its own way, and in line with its own traditions.… America will not seek to impose any system of government on any other nation — the essential truth of democracy is that each nation determines its own destiny.
If Obama’s words seemed trite then, they seem ironic now. The Obama administration’s attempts to impose abortion abroad has been unethical. Its attempts to do so in Obama’s father’s homeland may also be illegal.
The Obama administration has made abortion promotion a centerpiece of its diplomatic agenda. Testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in April 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced, “We are now an administration that will protect the rights of women, including their rights to reproductive health care.” She added that “reproductive health includes access to abortion that I believe should be safe, legal and rare.”
The “centerpiece” of the Obama foreign policy, she continued, would be the Global Health Initiative, which commits the U.S. to spending $63 billion over six years on, among other things, abortion and other reproductive services.
In March, Clinton interfered in a Canadian controversy and threw what the Toronto Star called, “a grenade in the lap of her shell-shocked Canadian hosts” when during a news conference in Quebec she aggresively endorsed abortion as a way to promote maternal health.
But the administration’s abortion promotion has been more than rhetorical. One of Obama’s first actions in office was to rescind the Mexico City Policy, which required non-governmental organizations that receive federal funding not to perform or promote abortion abroad.
And Congress has appropriated hundreds of millions of dollars to promote “family planning and reproductive health programs worldwide.” Over the next five years, Clinton announced in January, “All governments will make access to reproductive healthcare and family planning services a basic right.”
Obama’s abortion imperialism may have its greatest impact in Kenya, where the administration has spent millions to promote ratification of a national constitution that would radically liberalize the country’s abortion laws.
Abortion is illegal in Kenya except to save the life of the mother. This reflects the views of most Kenyans, who are religious and socially conservative.
On August 4, however, Kenyans will vote yes or no on a draft constitution that includes language that would make most abortions a constitutional right.
Though it recognizes that “the life of a person begins at conception,” the constitution would legalize abortion when in the “opinion of a trained health professional there is need for emergency treatment, or the life or health of the mother is in danger, or if permitted by any other written law.”
Another article states that “Every person has the right to the highest attainable standard of health, which includes the right to health care services, including reproductive health care.”
This language has the fingerprints of western abortion rights groups all over it. The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) has implored Clinton to “send a message to Kenya expressing support for the Draft Constitution and opposing any amendments to eliminate abortion language…”
Administration officials have indeed sent a clear message to Kenya. After the Kenyan Parliament approved the abortion liberalizing draft constitution, the White House released a statement lauding the parliament’s decision and encouraging Kenyans to “see this important reform element through can help to turn the page to a promising new chapter of Kenyan history.”
Obama even appeared on the Kenyan Broadcasting Corporation to tell Kenyans that voting for the document was “a singular opportunity to put the government of Kenya on solid footing.” He urged Kenyans to “take advantage of the moment.”
Vice President Joe Biden was dispatched to Kenya in June to lobby for passage. He told a crowd of Kenyans that they should adopt the new constitution in order “to allow money to flow” to Kenya from other countries.
“The United States strongly supports the process of constitutional reform,” Biden said. “Dare to reach for transformative change, the kind of change that might come around only once in a lifetime. If you make these changes, I promise you, new foreign private investment will come in like you’ve never seen.”
But the money already has been flowing. American Ambassador Michael Ranneberger was quoted in May stating that the U.S. has donated $2 million for “civic education” about the proposed constitution.
The administration’s efforts in Kenya piqued the curiosity of three U.S. congressmen with legal oversight jurisdiction over foreign funds. Chris Smith (NJ), Darrell Issa (CA), and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL) launched a probe to determine whether the Obama administration violated federal law by using taxpayer money to promote the constitution.
In May they wrote to auditors at the State Department, USAID and GAO, stating that, “The Obama administration’s advocacy in support of Kenya’s proposed constitution may constitute a serious violation of the Siljander Amendment,” which prohibits foreign aid from being used to lobby for or against abortion.
A July report by the Office of the Inspector General of the USAID found that the administration has given grants totaling more than $23 million to more than 200 groups working to turn out the “yes” vote in the referendum.
“Under no circumstances should the U.S. government take sides,” Rep. Smith said during a press conference in late July. “Yet this is precisely what the Obama administration has done.”
The federal probe further found, according to Smith, that the Kenyan constitution was written partly by “U.S. funded NGOs working in concert with Planned Parenthood.”
Kenyan Catholic Bishop Anthony Muheria told me in an e-mail that he has little doubt the Obama administration has been actively pushing the constitution. “The U.S. Vice President has gone on record during his last visit, that [adopting the abortion language into the Constitution] is a condition for the funds to come,” Muheria wrote. “He even insinuated the difficulty those opposing the draft would face to get U.S. travel visas! This was quoted in our Kenyan media.”
While polls show most Kenyans support the idea of a new constitution, most do not understand the ramifications of the abortion language, wrote Muheria, who has been active in trying to educate Kenyans about the constitution’s abortion provisions.
Christian and other pro-life groups in Kenya are actively opposing the constitution’s passage. Bishop Muheria continued:
We as a Church are trying to educate and explain [the abortion] language, and the reaction is always one of rejection of this type language. The whole content issue is easily reduced to propaganda and TV or Radio clichés. And unfortunately the ones who have the money are those putting forward these abortionist ideas. There is a lot of funding support for this group.
Bishop Muheria remains optimistic despite polls showing that the constitution is likely to pass. “My hope and prayer is that [Kenyans] reject the proposed constitution and set out to build another more humane [constitution] in the primary issues of human rights and dignity,” he wrote.
Obama concluded his Ghana speech last year by re-stating his hope for Africa. “As I said earlier,” he told the crowd, “Africa’s future is up to Africans. The people of Africa are ready to claim that future.”
With its aggressive efforts to promote abortion in Kenya, the Obama administration has made it clear that the only future it will accept is a future with fewer Africans.