by Steven Ertelt
August 19, 2007
Mexico City, Mexico (LifeNews.com) — Amnesty International affiliates have reaffirmed a decision their leading officials made in April to endorse abortion. The vote reconfirms the human rights group’s position supporting abortion in cases when women are victims of sexual abuse — especially in war-torn areas.
Amnesty’s nine-member executive committee voted to back abortion in those cases or when a pregnancy threatens a woman’s life or health and the decision came under fire because it was done without the consent of AI’s national chapters.
With their official backing, AI will now move ahead with plans to promote abortion in areas like Darfur and to try to get nations in places like Latin America and Africa to overturn their pro-life laws prohibiting abortions.
The pro-abortion decision has upset leaders of the Catholic Church, which has historically provided significant funding and logistical support for the group. A senior Vatican official and a top American bishop have already called on Catholics worldwide to boycott the group because it supports abortion.
Following Friday’s vote to endorse abortion, a leading British bishop resigned.
The Rt. Rev Michael Evans, Bishop of East Anglia and the head of the Catholic Church in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk, wrote a special prayer for the organization for Catholics to use to pray that it has a change of heart.
"If Amnesty International becomes an organization which affirms the right to abortion, even under certain circumstances, it is free democratically to do so," Bishop Evans told the BBC.
"But it cannot expect those of us who are just as passionate about the human rights of the unborn child to feel at ease being part of such an organization," he added.
Before the vote, Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, promised Catholics worldwide would boycott the human rights group.
"If in fact Amnesty International persists in this course of action, individuals and Catholic organizations must withdraw their support because, in deciding to promote abortion rights, Amnesty International has betrayed its mission," he said.
Bishop William Skylstad, president of U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference, echoed the call for a boycott in July.
He said the decision to endorse abortion "undermines Amnesty’s long-standing moral credibility, diverts its mission, divides its own members (many of whom are Catholic or defend the rights of unborn children), and jeopardizes Amnesty’s support by people in many nations, cultures and religions."
Though AI took the position to respond to violence against women, Skylstad said it simply subjects women to more violence.
"A far more compassionate response is to provide support and services for pregnant women, advance their educational and economic standing in society, and resist all forms of violence and stigmatization against them," he added.
A Catholic layman, Peter Benenson, founded Amnesty International in 1961.
TAKE ACTION: Tell Amnesty International that you want it to reverse its decision to support abortion. Go to http://web.amnesty.org/contacts/engindex to contact the group and express your opposition. Also, use the group’s web site to find your national affiliate and tell them you oppose the idea.