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NRL News
Page 30
June 2010
Volume 37
Issue 8-9

Kenya Approves Constitution Containing Strong Pro-Abortion Language

By Jeanne E. Head, R.N. and Rai Rojas

With a nearly 70% approval, in early August Kenyans adopted a new constitution replacing the one written in 1963 when the country won its independence from Great Britain. There was no violence, as had been exhibited in a previous constitutional referendum, and there was a great voter turnout. That should have been the end and the entirety of the story.

Unfortunately for the women and unborn children of Kenya, there is much, much more to this vote and this story—not only because of what the new constitution does, but also because of who helped and how it came to pass.

The passage of the referendum on the new constitution, which opens the door to abortion on demand, involved a large amount of intimidation of the pro-life opponents and (to put it mildly) inappropriate involvement of the pro-abortion Obama Administration and numerous pro-abortion non governmental organizations (NGOs).

A country that is overwhelmingly pro-life, as measured by public opinion polls, will now be saddled with a constitution whose language, although recognizing the right to life from conception, contains “health” exceptions that U.S. experience tells us leads to abortion on demand.

Kenyan law on abortion had required the opinion of two medical doctors who were in agreement that an abortion was necessary to save the life of the mother. The pro-abortion language, crafted by a committee of “experts,” allows 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.”

That is carte blanche language for abortion on demand, as decades of experience in the United States have shown, despite the claims of the pro-abortion “yes” campaign.

Prior to final passage of the draft constitution, a campaign by pro-life Kenyans to delete the pro-abortion language and to insert a compromise amendment offered by a pro-life parliamentarian failed. The proposed amendment stated, “Termination of pregnancy is not permitted, but expectant mothers are entitled to emergency medical treatment in life threatening conditions.”

Even though polls were encouraging and at least one time showed a nearly identical split on the referendum, once the draft constitution with the pro-abortion language was passed by Parliament and slated for a referendum, the challenge to the pro-life Kenyans’ grassroots campaign became increasingly more difficult.

They faced a well-funded campaign of intimidation, misinformation, and outright lies by the promoters of the “yes” campaign who even placed ads claiming that the new constitution did not legalize abortion. It is reported that the media aided and abetted them by effectively limiting coverage of the pro-life “no” campaign including rejecting some of their proposed ads.

Pro-lifers were even victims of violence. In June, six people were killed and 20 were injured by a grenade attack at a prayer meeting after a pro-life rally sponsored by the “no” campaign.

Then there is the Obama Factor.

In a press statement issued July 16, pro-life Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) spelled out the Obama Administration’s complicity in pushing passage. Rep. Smith reported that, according to the Inspector General (IG) of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), U.S. taxpayers were footing the bill to the push the passage of the new constitution in Kenya to the tune of $23 million.

There is no doubt that the Obama Administration is funding the ‘yes’ campaign in Kenya,” said Rep. Smith, one of three U.S. lawmakers who had requested investigations into U.S. activities leading up to the referendum. “By funding NGOs charged with obtaining ‘yes’ votes, the Administration has crossed the line,” he added. “Directly supporting efforts to register ‘yes’ voters and ‘get out the “yes”’ vote means the U.S. government was running a political campaign in Kenya. U.S. taxpayer funds should not be used to support one side or the other.”

In his press release, Smith lists examples of pro-abortion organizations receiving U.S. funds to manipulate the “yes” vote. He stated that the IG’s list shows that “U.S. taxpayer monies are flying out the door to pro-abortion groups committed to overturning pro-life laws in Kenya.”

For example, he pointed out that the Kenyan Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA-Kenya) received $85,363 and Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI) received a primary grant of almost $3 million.

FIDA-Kenya launched a campaign in 2008 to liberalize Kenya’s abortion law. It is a member of the Kenyan Reproductive Health and Rights Alliance (RHARA), which is supported by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA). According to the PPFA website, the RHARA’s activities includes “. . . supporting advocates to decriminalize abortion in the country.”

Development Alternatives, Inc. advised USAID in 2009 that USAID Kenya would benefit by supporting civil society organizations that are advocating for “efforts to eventually legalize abortion in Kenya.”

Smith also cited the Committee of Experts on Constitutional Review in Kenya, which drafted the abortion-related provisions in the constitution, which received hundreds of thousands of U.S. taxpayer monies for office equipment and networking.

A key player not on the list is the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR). According to its 40-page report attacking Kenya’s law–“In Harm’s Way: The Impact of Kenya’s Restrictive Abortion Law”–CRR had already been in the country for several years doing “research” and, of course, spreading its propaganda.

The CRR was founded for the express purpose of establishing abortion as a fundamental right worldwide. In a failed legal challenge to President Bush’s reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy in 2001, CRR’s brief stated that its intent is to establish a right to abortion “in every country on earth.” (The Mexico City Policy banned U.S. funding of private foreign organizations that perform or “actively promote” abortion in foreign countries -- for example, by campaigning to weaken laws against abortion.)

It complained that foreign NGOs receiving USAID funds were no longer free to promote abortion as a human right as was done during the Clinton Administration (a policy that resulted in the legalization of abortion in several nations). Now with the help of the Obama Administration, CRR is on a roll.

The United States not only sent monies to Kenya in support of a pro-abortion “yes” vote, President Obama dispatched Vice President Joe Biden to Kenya as well. Biden, taking his cues from the White House, also enlisted the help of U.S. ambassador to Kenya, Michael Ranneberger, to lead U.S. efforts on behalf of a “yes” vote. reports and documents that the ambassador instructed many U.S. personnel including volunteers with the Peace Corps to campaign for a “yes” vote around the country.

Rep. Smith finished with this comment:

We should be embracing the health and welfare of both mothers and children in Africa while respecting sovereign prolife laws. Instead, the Obama Administration is trying to change Kenya’s existing restriction on abortion through the referendum. Such actions constitute a violation of U.S. law and is an affront to both the pro-life people of Kenya and the U.S., an overwhelming majority of whom do not support abortion, and in the case of the U.S., do not want their tax dollars to pay for abortion activities.”

Yet with all this evidence in hand, the American State Department’s inspector general has ruled that American diplomats in Kenya did not violate the U.S. law that forbids lobbying for or against abortion.

The investigation was carried out between late June and early July. The Obama’s State Department stated that it “did not find any evidence that U.S. embassy officials made any private or public statements to Kenyan government officials, non governmental organizations (NGOs), or any other actors expressing either a positive or negative position on the abortion provision in the draft Kenyan constitution.”


The Obama Administration wants the Inspector General’s ruling to be the end of the story, but it is not. More will be investigated and more of what happened will come to light. The women and unborn children of Kenya deserve no less.