Pro-Life Groups Increasing Pressure on Amnesty International on Abortion

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 25, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Life Groups Increasing Pressure on Amnesty International on Abortion Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 25, 2006

London, England ( — International pro-life groups are stepping up pressure on human rights organization Amnesty International to not adopt a pro-abortion position. The group has been considering dropping its long-standing position of neutrality on the controversial issue.

AI is more than a year away from a likely discussion and vote on the issue at its annual meeting in Mexico City in 2007 but the debate is already heating up in advance.

AI affiliates in Canada, England and New Zealand have announced they support AI backing abortion, but pro-life groups and Catholic organizations are putting heavy pressure on AI not to comply.

The Campaign Life Coalition, a pro-life group in Canada, has asked its membership to write Amnesty and urge it to stay neutral. The organization says several prominent AI donors have announced they will not finally support the organization anymore because of its considering supporting abortion.

Members of the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child in Britain are also lobbying the group to not change its position.

"You can’t just support a group because they do some good things," Janet Thomas, a member of the pro-life group, told the Associated Press. "You have to weigh your decision against the bad things they do."

Leading Catholic officials have also been outspoken as Renato Martino, head of the Vatican’s office for peace and justice, England bishop Michael Evans, and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops have issued statements condemning the pro-abortion proposal.

AP reports that pro-life groups are working to enlist the help of Muslims and evangelical Christians to help keep the Catholic-oriented AI under a neutral abortion stance.

Several local AI officials say the proposal has generated an intense debate.

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."

Ultimately, AI could make a decision at the Mexico City meeting in August 2007 and the outcome may be largely dependent on how other AI affiliates in other nations handle the debate locally.

AI could adopt the pro-abortion position by a consensus or formal vote or send the discussion back to its affiliates for further consideration.

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.

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