U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, commented today on a newly-released report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) showing that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to an organization which lobbied to include pro-abortion language in Kenya's constitution. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
"For the last 30 years, U.S. law has been clear: taxpayer dollars may not be used to lobby for or against abortion overseas. But, as a GAO investigation recently uncovered, the Administration gave taxpayer dollars to an international organization which lobbied for pro-abortion language to be included in Kenya's new constitution during Kenya's recent constitutional reform process.
"When Kenya's Committee of Experts produced a first draft of the constitution stating that "every person has the right to life,' the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) pushed to insert unprecedented pro-abortion language that a fetus lacks constitutional standing and that personhood begins only at birth. The U.S. Agency for International Development gave hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to the IDLO to provide "technical assistance' in the drafting of Kenya's new constitution.
"Kenya's own Parliamentary Select Committee proposed that, consistent with Kenyan law, the new constitution should specify that life begins at conception and that abortion is illegal except when the life of the mother is in danger. IDLO opposed that language.
"It is indefensible that U.S. tax dollars were used to turn a constitutional process aimed at curbing violence in Kenya into an opportunity to push a pro-abortion agenda.
"After Congress raised these concerns last year, how did the Administration punish IDLO for violating the abortion lobbying ban? By giving them a new, million-dollar grant to help implement the constitution they worked to distort. This report raises grave questions about the illegal misuse of taxpayer funds to promote a pro-abortion agenda overseas, which requires further Congressional attention."
NOTE: The GAO report found that IDLO "advised that the [Committee of Experts] might consider adding language to make clear that the fetus lacks constitutional standing, and that the rights of women under these articles therefore take priority." IDLO further recommended a modification to one constitutional draft "to make clear that a person is a human being who has been born."