Amnesty International Responds to Catholic Church Boycott Over Abortion

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 14, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Amnesty International Responds to Catholic Church Boycott Over Abortion Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 14
, 2007

London,England ( — Amnesty International responded Thursday to criticism from the Catholic Church, which said the human rights organization would lose money because of its recent decision to support abortion. This week, Cardinal Renato Martino, a top Vatican spokesman, said the Catholic Church would call on a boycott of Amnesty International and urge Catholic organizations to stop sending donations to the group.

In a statement sent to, AI doesn’t appear to be concerned about the boycott and says it receives no direct funding from the Vatican.

"We have not accepted funds from the Vatican and do not accept funds from any other state in support of our work against human rights violations," says Kate Gilmore, Executive Deputy Secretary General of Amnesty International.

That millions of Catholics worldwide and groups large and small would likely follow the Vatican’s lead and revoke funding for the human rights group should cause the organization financial headaches, but Gilmore doesn’t seem concerned.

She contends that there are enough supporters around the world and Catholics who won’t toe the line with the church to make up for any financial shortfall the boycott produces.

"Millions of people around the world of many faiths and creeds donate to Amnesty International as individuals," Gilmore said. "Among them are welcome donations from members of the Catholic faith."

"We hope that Amnesty InternationaI’s work against torture, against the death penalty and for the proper administration of justice including for women and girls will continue to draw active support from people of conviction the world over,"she added.

Cardinal Martino, head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, issued the call in an interview with the National Catholic Register.

“I believe that, if in fact Amnesty International persists in this course of action, individuals and Catholic organizations must withdraw their support, because, in deciding to promote abortion rights, AI has betrayed its mission,” Cardinal Martino said.

Martino said the Catholic Church says it is suspending any financial support or donations to the human rights group.

“No more Catholic financing of Amnesty International after the organization’s pro-abortion about-turn,” he said. He called the decision an “inevitable consequence.”

Gilmore also tried to dismiss the notion that Amnesty International is supporting abortion, even though it’s official position now says that women worldwide should have access to abortion in cases of rape or incest.

"Amnesty International’s position is not for abortion as a right but for women’s human rights to be free of fear, threat and coercion as they manage all consequences of rape and other grave human rights violations," Gilmore claimed.

Gilmore condemns Cardinal Martino for saying Amnesty International is "promoting abortion" but says in her statement that "Amnesty International’s actual policy … is to support the decriminalization of abortion … and to defend women’s access to abortion."

In other words, AI will go to the dozens of pro-life nations in South America, Africa and around the world and encourage those countries to drop their pro-life laws and legalize abortion.

That was the fear pro-life advocates had prior to AI taking its pro-abortion position and will make the job of pro-life groups working at the United Nations and other countries more difficult as they work with local lawmakers to uphold pro-life laws.

Amnesty International was founded by a Catholic convert in 1961 and has always retained a strong following within the Church but that could change following the decision to endorse abortion and the call for a boycott.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Amnesty International that you want it to reverse its decision to support abortion. 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.