Ireland Amnesty International Affiliate Won’t Promote Pro-Abortion View

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 19, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Ireland Amnesty International Affiliate Won’t Promote Pro-Abortion View

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 19,

Dublin, Ireland ( — The Ireland affiliate of Amnesty International will not promote the human rights group’s pro-abortion position. It says it cannot back legal abortions in cases of rape and incest or when the woman’s life is in danger because the position runs counter to the pro-life laws of the European nation.

Noeleen Hartigan, director at Ireland’s Amnesty International office, confirmed to the Irish Times newspaper that the branch is opting out of supporting the policy.

The abortion policy, which has prompted outrage across the globe and calls from Catholic leaders for a boycott, will likely come up at AI Ireland meetings in the coming weeks.

The pro-life group Family & Life in Ireland told it supports the group’s decision.

"Amnesty International Ireland made its decision not to promote the new policy following a two-year consultation with members," the group said.

Meanwhile, a former AI member, Mary Stewart, told the Irish Times that she send her membership card back to the group in protest after it reaffirmed its executive committee’s pro-abortion vote on Friday.

"I joined Amnesty because of its strong opposition to the death penalty but now opposition to the death penalty does not apply to unborn babies," she told the newspaper.

With their official backing, AI will now move ahead with plans to promote abortion in areas like Darfur and to try to get nations in places like Latin America and Africa to overturn their pro-life laws prohibiting abortions.

But it will have less support because of a boycott by Catholic leaders.

A senior Vatican official and a top American bishop have already called on Catholics worldwide to boycott the group because it supports abortion.

Before the vote, Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, promised Catholics worldwide would boycott the human rights group.

"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, Amnesty International has betrayed its mission," he said.

Bishop William Skylstad, president of U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference, echoed the call for a boycott in July.

He said the decision to endorse abortion "undermines Amnesty’s long-standing moral credibility, diverts its mission, divides its own members (many of whom are Catholic or defend the rights of unborn children), and jeopardizes Amnesty’s support by people in many nations, cultures and religions."

Though AI took the position to respond to violence against women, Skylstad said it simply subjects women to more violence.

"A far more compassionate response is to provide support and services for pregnant women, advance their educational and economic standing in society, and resist all forms of violence and stigmatization against them," he added.

A Catholic layman, Peter Benenson, founded Amnesty International in 1961.

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.