by Denise Noe
July 18, 2006
LifeNews.com Note: The following editorial is written by an abortion advocate and LifeNews.com does not necessarily endorse all of the comments or ideas in it.
Amnesty International has long been known for its work on behalf of human rights worldwide and particularly the good work it has done for prisoners of conscience. It is currently in danger of turning into just another partisan liberal activist organization. A step in that direction was taken when AI came out against the death penalty.
A much larger step will cost AI much of its credibility as a human rights organization is currently being contemplated. AI may take a stand in favor of abortion rights. A letter to this writer from an AI representative stated that at AI’s 2005 International Council Meeting it was “decided that AI will develop a policy statement and a strategy for defending and promoting sexual and reproductive rights.”
The representative continued that “three specific issues have been identified as particularly urgent in the context of AI’s campaign to stop violence against women,” those issues being “access to health care for the management of complications arising from abortion; access to abortion in cases of rape, sexual assault, incest or risk to a woman’s life; and the removal of criminal penalties for those who seek or provide abortions.”
I should first establish that I am one who believes abortion should be legal in the early months. However, legal abortion is not a basic human right similar to freedom of worship, assembly, and speech. As George F. Will, who is for outlawing abortion has said, it is a subject on which “decent people may disagree.”
It is at least arguable that the fetus, which may well be a human life, is entitled to be unmolested in its natural habitat of the womb. This position is arguable despite the extraordinary demands that pregnancy makes on the pregnant female and even in cases in which pregnancy occurred through rape. Pregnancy itself, even if its origin was violent, is not violence but a natural process.
Abortion may reasonably be seen as violent. Even in the first trimester, it involves tearing the fetus out of its natural habitat and ripping it apart. As early as the second month, the unborn may be “formed” so that arms, legs, and a head are torn off in the abortion process. As a pregnancy progresses, abortions get even more grisly.
It is possible that in the latter stages of pregnancy, fetuses are subjected to pain, perhaps even agony, when aborted, thus violating the provision of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document Amnesty International supports, which states that “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
Nor should abortion be seen as an absolute necessity for women’s freedom. Few figures were more militant advocating women’s rights than suffragette Susan B. Anthony who strongly opposed abortion. Free Love advocate Victoria Woodhull was similarly outspoken in denouncing it.
At least half of the fetuses aborted are female. Gianna Jessen survived an abortion performed when her biological mother was seven-and-a-half months pregnant. She has cerebral palsy as a result of the abortion. Jessen has pertinently asked, “If abortion is about women’s rights, where were mine?”
Amnesty International should take no position on the legality or illegality of abortion but should continue to work to protect the rights of people who struggle politically and socially on either side of this issue on which “decent people may disagree.”