Amnesty International UK Backed Abortion After Members Voted No

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 2, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Amnesty International UK Backed Abortion After Members Voted No Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 2
, 2007

London, England ( — The British affiliate of Amnesty International recently changed its position to support abortion and say that nations which prohibit abortions are contributing to human rights abuses. However, the position change came after the group’s own internal polling found its members opposed the decision.

In an email to from the Pro-Life Alliance, the British organization said that one of its members received a report from AIUK showing there was not significant support for the position change.

AIUK polled 1,800 of its members and found that just 45.4 percent favored a position calling on countries where abortion is illegal to reverse their positions or saying abortions should be allowed in cases of rape or incest. Another 45.7 percent opposed backing abortions, according to the report received.

Only 31.1 percent said there was any reason for AIUK to weigh in on the abortion debate in cases such as risk to the mother’s health, severe fetal development, or unwanted pregnancies in forced marriages. Some 42.6 percent of those polled said AIUK should remain neutral.

On abortion in general, just 35.3 percent of the members polled said they favored an AI position backing legal abortions. Some 52.8 percent opposed supporting abortion and the rest were undecided or didn’t answer.

In a statement to its membership accompanying the poll results, AIUK said the survey data "are intended to help inform the discussion of motions on these issues." Instead, the organization voted to endorse abortion.

The vote is important because the International Executive Committee of Amnesty International is considering adopting a formal policy on abortion. AIUK’s vote will be used by Amnesty International to gauge the will of its members.

A final decision on the abortion resolution is expected at the next International Council Meeting in Mexico in August.

Last May, both the British and New Zealand national affiliates endorsed an AI proposition to change the human rights group’s stance on abortion from one of neutrality to one favoring it.

The British affiliate voted down two alternatives, one saying the affiliate should take no
position and another promoting "the fundamental principal of the right to life of every human person."

Precious Life, a British pro-life group, condemned the vote to endorse abortion, saying Amnesty International’s British group has "turned its back on human rights, the very thing they have campaigned to protect for over forty years."

"Abortion can never be described as a ‘right,’ " the group said in a statement. "Abortion is a needless act of violence that kills babies and hurts women."

Should AI promote abortion around the world, 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.

"This kind of change will put the lives of unborn children into the hands of one of the most powerful groups in the world," Austin Ruse of the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute told CNS. "They can throw the weight of the international legal community against the unborn."

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.

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.

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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