Amnesty International Responds to Catholic Church’s Abortion Condemnation

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 23, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Amnesty International Responds to Catholic Church’s Abortion Condemnation Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 23,

London, England ( — Amnesty International has released a statement responding to the Catholic Church’s condemnation of its new position supporting abortion. The human rights group reaffirmed its new pro-abortion position last Friday that will see it promote abortion for victims of sexual abuse and try to topple pro-life laws around the world.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, recently commented on Amnesty’s new position, saying the reasons for it are disingenuous.

"Certainly one must combat violence against women, the inhuman form of violence which is rape, and struggle together to defend the dignity of women, of any woman," the cardinal said.

However, he said, one can never push for the taking of another human life, "even if it is the fruit of violence," he said.

“To selectively justify abortion, even in the cases of rape, is to define the innocent child within the womb as an enemy, a ‘thing’ that must be destroyed,” Cardinal Martino said.

He encouraged Catholics to boycott Amnesty International over its ne wpro-abortion view.

Amnesty responded with a lengthy statement saying the group "does not promote abortion as a universal right and the organization remains silent on the rights or wrongs of abortion."

"Amnesty International stands by its policy, adopted in April this year, that aims to support the decriminalization of abortion, to ensure women have access to health care when complications arise from abortion and to defend women’s access to abortion — within reasonable gestational limits — when their health or life are in danger," the organization added.

The group said its abortion position came in response to learning what happens to women who have abortions in some countries.

It points to women getting death sentences in Nigeria for abortions, arrests and prosecutions in other nations, and said women with ectopic pregnancies were denied medical treatment elsewhere.

"Amnesty International finds it unacceptable for women to be imprisoned for seeking or obtaining an abortion," the group said.

But pro-life advocates say that women should not be the target under laws prohibiting abortions. Rather, authorities should prosecute abortion practitioners for breaking the law and note that women are frequently second victims of abortion.

They also say the focus should be less on getting abortions for women and more on helping women obtain medical and psychological care and pregnancy support when victimized by sexual abuse.

Kate Gilmore, executive deputy secretary-general of Amnesty International, also responded to the Vatican in an interview with Reuters.

“Our policy reflects our obligation of solidarity as a human rights movement with, for example, the rape survivor in Darfur who, because she is left pregnant as a result of the enemy, is further ostracised by her community," she explained.

Gilmore also said that the Vatican doesn’t officially give Amnesty International any financial support.

As a result, any financial boycott would come from indivdual Catholic groups that decided to revoke their funding for the human rights group.

Recently, Father Frank Pavone, the founder and director of Priests for Life, told about his concern over the decision.

"Amnesty International was founded to protect human rights, yet it now treads upon the most fundamental human right, the right to life," said Fr. Pavone. "To fail to protect the right to life renders suspect one’s advocacy of any other human right."

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 their new position.