by Steven Ertelt
November 17, 2006
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A leading pro-life congressman, a representative of the nation’s Catholic bishops and the head of an organization for pro-life Democrats are expected to hold a press conference on Monday asking Amnesty International to keep its neutral position on abortion.
The human rights watchdog has been in the middle of an intense debate about whether it should retain that position or begin including a nation’s lack of legalized abortion among its list of human rights abuses.
Rep. Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican who is the leader of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, will be calling on Amnesty International to resist pressure from abortion advocates to adopt a pro-abortion position.
Smith will discuss a "strongly worded" letter he and 73 members of Congress have written to Larry Cox, AI’s executive director.
The letter urges the organization to maintain a neutral position or adopt a pro-life view that abortion destroys the human rights of women and children.
The letter states that a decision to support or condone abortion would "significantly undermine Amnesty’s reputation and effectiveness."
"The killing of an unborn child by abortion can never be construed to be a human right," Smith said in a statement provided to LifeNews.com. "Therefore, taking a position that supports violence against children is antithetical to everything Amnesty International stands for."
"It is not possible for Amnesty to justify any position that condones abortion based on international human rights law while at the same time remain true to their principles," Smith said.
A final decision on whether AI will retain its neutral position could be made at Amnesty International’s next international meeting that will be held in Mexico in August of 2007.
Representing the views of their membership, country representatives will likely vote on what, if any, position Amnesty International should take on abortion.
Deirdre McQuade, the pro-life spokeswoman for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Kristen Day, the director of Democrats for Life of America, will join Smith at the Monday afternoon press conference.
Catholic church leaders in various countries have spoken up against AI supporting abortion and said the organization, founded by a lay Catholic, stands to lose a decent percentage of its membership if it backs abortion.
AI affiliates in Canada, England and New Zealand have voted in favor of Amnesty International supporting abortion. The British and New Zealand groups want the international organization to back all abortions while the Canadian affiliate said abortion should only be supported in limited cases such as rape or incest.
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 https://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.