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Messing With Kenya

By Stephen Phelan

Just when faithful Catholics thought they’d heard the last of the troubled Patrick Kennedy, we find that he had one more curious public spectacle up his sleeve. As we have come to expect from the lame-duck congressman from Rhode Island, the occasion is one last attempt to make himself relevant to his family’s party by opposing pro-life Christians.

Kennedy is joining the chorus of supposedly “objective” Democrats who are traveling to Kenya and weighing in on the upcoming congressional referendum. Like Vice President Biden and a handful of other Democrat congressmen, Kennedy doesn’t see a problem with telling Kenyans how Washington thinks they should vote. But Kennedy has taken the rhetoric up a notch in both tone and absurdity, threatening to use the Congressional Oversight Committee (COC) to expose Western pro-life organizations that finance the opposition to the new pro-abortion constitution.

This threat is just crazy for several reasons. First, the efforts he is threatening to expose are in no way illegal. Human rights organizations on a daily basis do exactly what Kennedy apparently finds so nefarious – working with Kenyans to keep their country the way they want it – abortion-free. Along with the majority of Kenyans who are pro-life, these groups are right to be concerned by the proposed constitution, which essentially opens the door for a complete reversal of Kenya’s prohibitions against abortion.

Article 26 of the proposed Kenyan constitution states that abortion is allowed if “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.” What strong prohibitions against abortion could remain in place with such language installed in a ratified constitution?

Second, Kennedy is basically threatening to use US taxpayers’ funds to employ an entity (The COC) that has nothing to do with oversight of the organizations in question, to investigate activities that no one thinks are illegal. This sort of extravagant partisan futility is exactly why Kennedy isn’t bothering to defend his seat this Fall. The Obama administration’s desperation is showing when it has to activate a retiring congressman on a junket to make bold-sounding claims that no informed person takes seriously.

Third, Kennedy’s blathering is as much pre-emptive damage control as it is an empty threat. The Obama administration is currently under investigation by the Auditor General for funds given to pro-abortion groups to promote the passage of the new pro-abortion constitution. Unlike the supposedly suspicious activities that Kennedy wants to investigate, the administration’s actions — if the charges are true — are highly illegal. Per the Siljander Amendment of 2006, no government entity can use federal funds “to lobby for or against abortion and violations are subject to civil and criminal penalties under the Antideficiency Act.”

The investigation, launched under pressure from Congressmen Chris Smith (R-NJ), Darrell Issa (R-CA), and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) is due to be completed soon. Officials of the American embassy in Kenya have admitted spending $2 million on “education” regarding the constitution, although they deny doing anything illegal. But according to Congressman Smith’s office, the total spent by the administration to influence the outcome of the constitutional referendum may be as high as $11 million.

Adding to the “oops” factor of Kennedy’s silliness is that it calls attention not only to the impending IG report but also to the fact that there is now a parade of Obama surrogates flying all the way to Nairobi to promote this constitutional referendum. Speaking in Kenya’s capital in June, Vice President Joe Biden stuck his foot in his mouth by saying that a huge financial windfall would come Kenya’s way if they would just get with the program and approve the new constitution. This promise has since been repeated by other administration proxies. Responding to questions, Biden’s office has claimed objectivity, saying that it’s up to the Kenyan people to decide the outcome.

Really? The administration is neutral toward the outcome of the Kenyan constitutional vote, but it is spending millions on “educating” the Kenyan people on how they should vote, it sends the second in command to promise great things will come to the country if it adopts the new constitution, and it sends representatives like Kennedy to undermine the opposition?
One need not be a Washington insider to question the Obama administration’s increasingly strained claims of objectivity in the matter. But why Kenya? What is so important about this particular referendum that it is attracting so much attention from the Obama administration?

Experts on Africa’s political history often say, “Where Kenya goes, Africa follows.” Historically, once an idea has a foothold in this East African nation, other nations are more likely to follow suit. Although African nations are being inundated with propaganda and funds from Western population controllers, these countries for the most part restrict abortion, and it would be devastating to the cause of life for Kenya to fall. Abortion is not the only issue at stake in the referendum, but given the Obama administration’s record of extremely aggressive promotion of abortion abroad, how can one doubt that the legalization of abortion is a key reason for their unusual devotion of efforts and resources to influence the outcome of the referendum?

That Kennedy’s talking points come straight out of the International Planned Parenthood Federation playbook also doesn’t help his party’s claims of objectivity. Among his questionable statements: “The moral outrage of the Church should be on infant mortality occurring from preventable causes and poverty.” Kennedy’s condescension toward the Church he has all but rejected would be laughable if the stakes were not so high, and proposing that Kenya can solve the problem of infant mortality by removing restrictions on the killing of pre-born infants is embarrassing and murderous logic.

The sad irony is that Kenya could greatly benefit from a constitutional reform that affirms the dignity of every Kenyan, and which helps to eradicate the endemic corruption of its government. Looking at the Obama administration’s record, one wonders if they are capable of promoting any foreign policy that does not result in more abortion, whether the citizens of the nation want it or not.

Using the sad situation of the Kenyan people and the precarious state of their government to sneak legalized abortion into their constitution is unconscionable and should be denounced by anyone who values human life and dignity.

Stephen Phelan is the Communications Manager for Human Life International, a pro-life organization based in Front Royal, Virginia, with affiliates and associates in over 100 countries worldwide.

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