Amnesty International Defends Abortion Query From Pro-Life Opposition

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 5, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Amnesty International Defends Abortion Query From Pro-Life Opposition Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 5, 2006

New York, NY ( — Amnesty International is coming under fire from pro-life groups for asking its membership if it should add promoting abortion to the list of human rights topics it covers. The group is defending itself and saying it’s only polling its members and hasn’t taken a pro-abortion stance yet.

Last month, AI leaders sent documents to its membership proposing three areas in the abortion debate where the group could be involved.

Pro-life groups have been very vocal in saying AI should not adopt a pro-abortion position, including Catholic ‘Aid to the Church in Need’ (ACN), which participates in humanitarian assistance campaigns.

Father Joaquin Alliende, ACN’s international ecclesiastical assistant, told Catholic World News that his group regretted learning AI was looking into promoting abortion.

“AI has earned a high reputation for its intensive efforts to gain the release of innocent prisoners on conscience," he explained. "Now by proposing a pro-abortion initiative AI is abandoning its own noble ethical principles, thereby shaking the very foundations on which it is built."

Alliende told CWN that the right to life is the most basic of human rights and "unborn life in a mother’s womb is the very weakest of all threatened and persecuted human beings.”

Meanwhile, AI is defending its query and qualifying its objectives.

"We’re not saying with this proposal that abortion on demand is a woman’s right; but we are saying a woman’s human rights are violated if she is imprisoned or otherwise punished for seeking an abortion or helping someone else have one," AI representative Cheryl Hotchkiss told the National Post newspaper.

AI Canada president Nancy Kingsbury also said that Amnesty "is in the midst of an in-depth consultation with its worldwide membership to consider developing a new policy on sexual and reproductive rights, including a variety of issues related to abortion."

Alex Neve, secretary general of AI Canada, added that AI is "a very grassroots organization, and any decision is very much a grassroots decision. I wouldn’t dare speculate where we would end up."

In the proposal for members to consider, AI says abortion should become an international right and pro-life laws toppled in nations that have them.

Women who are raped or in situations where the pregnancy threatens their life should have an unlimited right to abortion and the group wants to make sure that women who have complications from a botched abortion get proper medical care, the group proposed.

AI members are asked for comment on the proposal to promote abortion by the group’s annual meeting in May. Comments are also being accepted for the group’s global meeting in Mexico in August 2007.

Thanks to Bush administration officials, the United Nations has not ratified documents declaring abortion an international right and the president will likely work to prevent that as long as he is in office.

However, the AI documents say they will encourage NGOs who lobby at the UN to press for an international document saying abortion is a human right.

Currently, Amnesty International says it “takes no position on whether or not women have a right to choose to terminate unwanted pregnancies; there is no generally accepted right to abortion in international human rights law.”

TAKE ACTION: Tell Amnesty International that you don’t want it to become a pro-abortion organization fighting to make abortion legal worldwide. Go to to contact the group and express your opposition.

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