Catholic Church Leader Fears Future Legal Troubles for Abortion Opposition

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 28, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Catholic Church Leader Fears Future Legal Troubles for Abortion Opposition Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 28, 2006

The Vatican ( — A leading Catholic Church spokesman says he worries that Catholic officials and other pro-life advocates who speak out against abortion may find themselves in legal trouble in the future. That concern is exacerbated by an Amnesty International survey of its members about whether it should change its position from neutrality to supporting abortion.

Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, head of the Pontifical Council for the Family, said that as abortion becomes more firmly established as a legal right, countries may begin taking steps to silence the opposition.

"I fear that faced with current legislation, speaking in defense of life, of the rights of the family, is becoming in some societies a crime against the state, a form of disobedience of the government, a discrimination against women," Cardinal Trujillo told Reuters.

"The Church risks being brought in front of some international court, if the debate gets any more tense, if the most radical opinions are heeded," the Vatican spokesman said.

The comments came in a discussion about embryonic stem cell research the cardinal had with an Italian Christian magazine.

Trujillo told Catholic publication Famiglia Cristiana that "destroying human embryos is equivalent to an abortion … it’s the same thing."

Elaborating on the excommunication, he said the warning "applies to all women, doctors and researchers who eliminate embryos."

Last month, the Canadian affiliate of Amnesty International met in Winnipeg and endorsed a proposal calling on AI to favor lobbying to overturn pro-life laws against abortions in numerous countries around the world.

The vote followed one by its British and New Zealand affiliates urging the group to take an across the board pro-abortion position.

Cheryl Hotchkiss, a spokeswoman for Amnesty Canada, admitted her organization is getting hit with complaints from AI members and others who are "concerned about their continuing involvement with Amnesty if we proceed."

Amnesty International is slated to have a worldwide vote on the issue at its next global meeting in Mexico in 2007.

AI’s decision to consider whether or not to take a pro-abortion stance is upsetting human rights campaigners across the globe who say the right to life is the basic human right. Should AI promote abortion, pro-life advocates are concerned at the international effects the decision will have.

AI would likely begin filing lawsuits on behalf of women in nations where abortion is illegal, such as the recent lawsuit that legalized abortion in Columbia in cases of rape and incest or severe fetal handicaps.

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, AI’s proposal says it 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. Also, use the group’s web site to find your national affiliate and tell them you oppose the idea.

Related web sites:
Amnesty International –