The wrong road

  • May 24, 2007
It’s difficult to comprehend why Amnesty International has persisted in going down the dark path toward embracing abortion as a human “right.” Yet it has done so, despite entreaties around the globe from both its members and friends outside the organization.
In early May, the international human rights advocacy group confirmed to Catholic News Service that it had indeed adopted a new policy on abortion. This policy, outlined in documents never released to the general public, was approved in April in an eerily opaque fashion for an organization that specializes in bringing light to dark places. The policy was posted to a members-only web site and Amnesty leaders were ordered to not issue a press release on the topic or make any public statement about it. The policy itself would only be issued to those who requested a copy.

The new policy jettisons the former neutrality on abortion in favour of open support for access to abortion. According to a background document obtained by CNS, “AI does not counsel individuals as to whether they should continue or terminate a pregnancy, nor will AI campaign generally for abortion.” However, AI will henceforth “call governments to account for their laws and policies on abortion and to make appropriate policy recommendations toward the realization of women’s human rights.”

The crux of the matter is that now AI has deemed abortion to be a matter of “women’s rights.” The rights of the unborn person in the womb do not exist, in this view.

This is a sad turn of events for this once-praiseworthy organization. Amnesty was started in England with strong Catholic support to battle on behalf of prisoners of conscience around the world. With the help of religiously minded people everywhere, Amnesty turned a spotlight of publicity on those who languished in jails in countries where the rule of law hardly existed.

The new policy is doubly disappointing in that it has been rammed passed Amnesty International’s membership with only a rather ambiguous consultation. In England, even though a majority of members opposed the new policy, those who ran the organization approved it anyway. In Canada, there was a similarly vague consultation which supposedly resulted in majority support for the change. However, no one ever issued the results of any vote to confirm whether this was true. We’re left with only the bland assurances of Amnesty executives that all is for the best.

Obviously Amnesty needs to learn a lesson about practising what it preaches.

Now the organization stands to lose considerable support from those who once were among its most loyal foot soldiers. And rightly so. How can anyone trust an organization that purports to defend human rights when it ignores the rights of the weakest, most vulnerable members of the human race?

If it wants to retain some measure of the respect it rightfully earned in its glory days, Amnesty International will have to reverse this ill-considered decision.

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