Australia, Northern Ireland Schools Leave Amnesty International Over Abortion

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 20, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Australia, Northern Ireland Schools Leave Amnesty International Over Abortion Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 20,

Melbourne, Australia ( — Catholic schools in Ireland and Australia are cutting their ties with Amnesty International over its decision to promote abortion in some circumstances. The human rights group has become the subject of an international boycott from the Catholic group after its decision to back abortion.

In Australia, Stephen Elder, the director of the Catholic Education Office, wrote to principals at all 328 Catholic schools in the Melbourne archdiocese telling them they need to disassociate with Amnesty.

The letter also asked the schools to contact the human rights group and "convey their disappointment" about the decision to abandon its abortion-neutral stance.

Elder told The Age newspaper, "Abortion is a fundamental denial of the dignity of the human person and a breach of the human rights of the child" and that the archdiocese had "serious concerns about the policy."

The decision could have a huge impact as many of the schools in there had relationships with Amnesty.

"It’s an organization we would encourage schools to support, which is why this is so disappointing," Maria Kirkwood, assistant director of religious education, said. "But this particular issue is a very significant one for the Catholic Church and it is impossible for the Catholic Church to continue to support Amnesty with a policy of this nature in place."

An Amnesty spokesman told the newspaper that many schools have already contacted the group saying they will disassociate.

Meanwhile, schools in Northern Ireland are disbanding their Amnesty chapters as well.

The auxiliary bishop of Down and Connor, Donal McKeown, told the BBC that schools there are deciding to scrap the groups because of the abortion decision.

"Amnesty’s espousal in recent months of campaigning for abortion access in limited circumstances will leave many people in a difficult situation," he said.

Several Catholic schools in Belfast have stopped work for the group including Rathmore Grammar and Our Lady and St Patrick’s College.