Chicago-Style Politics In Kenya

By Joseph Meaney

The people of Kenya will vote on August 4, 2010 on a new constitution that includes sweeping provisions allowing abortion. The pro-abortion and unelected international Committee of Experts on Constitutional Review added several significant lines to article 26 of the proposed constitution in the final drafting process. It begins well: “Every person has the right to life. The life of a person begins at conception.” The added section 4, however, elaborates: “Abortion is not permitted unless, 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 law.” These are exceptions that could easily create de facto abortion-on-demand in this pro-life nation.

The situation in Kenya on the eve of its national constitutional referendum is reminiscent of Chicago’s dirty politics at its worst. Abortion was inserted into the draft constitution by backroom maneuvers. When pro-lifers raised the alarm, the highest Kenyan government officials tried to sow confusion by publicly denying that abortion’s [legal status] would change.

Another new constitutional provision allowing for kadhi or Islamic courts, which rule on the basis of sharia law in marriage, divorce and inheritance cases, is widely seen as an attempt to garner Muslim votes despite their traditional opposition to abortion. Most tragically, a large rally for the “No” side in Nairobi was the scene of a grenade attack that left six dead and almost 100 wounded on June 14, 2010.

Chicago-style tactics can hardly come as a surprise, since the Obama administration has injected itself forcefully into the process from the beginning. The U.S. ambassador to Kenya, Michael Ranneberger, openly and repeatedly endorsed the new constitution in the press, causing a national scandal. Vice President Joe Biden even stopped in Nairobi, on his way to the World Cup in South Africa, and made the most hypocritical statements imaginable to reporters and crowds. He advised Kenyans he would not presume to tell them how to vote and then made it very clear financial incentives were at stake:

Putting in place a new constitution and strengthening your institutions and the rule of law will not only unleash the energy of the youth, deepen the roots of your democracy, and ultimately guarantee your security—it will also further open the door to major American development programs like the Millennium Challenge. There’s so much more we could do, and want to do, in partnership with you. It could provide millions of dollars in grant assistance to Kenya that you would know how to use well to build this great nation.

Actually, U.S. money is already flowing to pro-abortion groups in Kenya. A preliminary report issued by [the Office of] the Inspector General has found that at least $23 million in U.S. tax dollars have been spent so far to ensure passage of the proposed new Kenyan constitution. Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey, one of three members of Congress who pushed for the [OIG]’s investigation, was shocked by the sheer arrogance of the Obama administration’s meddling in the internal politics of another sovereign nation. Thanks to the Siljander Amendment’s provision that it is illegal for the U.S. government to spend funds to lobby for or against abortion in foreign countries, Smith and others can seek legal redress. As could be expected, Obama and his officials have denied criminal wrongdoing and have even suddenly become much more nuanced in their pronouncements in favor of the [proposed] constitution.

The undeniable fact remains that radical pro-abortion groups actively engaged in the Kenyan “Yes” campaign have been bankrolled by the U.S. government. These include the Kenyan Federation of Women Lawyers, a member organization in the Kenyan Reproductive Health and Rights Alliance; the African Woman and Child Features Service; and Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI). Many other “Yes” campaigners have also received U.S. funds. Even the infamous Committee of Experts on Constitutional Review, which inserted the abortion language against the wishes of Kenya’s Parliamentary Select Committee (a group of Kenyan legislators), received funding from the Obama administration.

The Catholic Church and many other [religious bodies] in Kenya have forcefully condemned the proposed constitution. Cardinal John Njue, the archbishop of Nairobi, stated recently that it is “fundamentally flawed” and cannot be supported in good conscience. He and the other bishops of Kenya made the analogy that the draft constitution is like rotten egg from which you cannot separate the good from the bad.

Polling data consistently shows that Kenyans are overwhelmingly opposed to legalizing abortion. Paradoxically, a majority of respondents in recent polls (of questionable merit, considering their funding sources) say they plan to vote for the new constitution. It is a clear case of propaganda jeopardizing a truly well-informed vote. There is no doubt that millions of dollars are being spent to determine the outcome of Kenya’s constitutional referendum by the international abortion lobby, and Barack Obama is the head of that team.

Deceptive backroom tactics, intimidation, violence and bribery are all on display in the run-up to the referendum on Kenya’s proposed new constitution. Clearly, prayer is sorely needed in this dire situation. Human Life International and many other pro-life groups have asked for prayers to go up, to defeat this attempt to force abortion on yet another country. It would be a terrible tragedy indeed if Obama’s Chicago-style thuggery successfully imposed abortion on a nation whose people clearly do not want it.

Joseph Meaney is director of international coordination for Human Life International, the world’s largest pro-life organization, with affiliates and associates in over 100 countries. He is one of the leading experts on the international pro-life movement. This article is reprinted with HLI’s kind permission and was originally published by