June 2006


A senior Vatican official has claimed that Amnesty International will be discredited if it pushes for the decriminalization of abortion around the world.

Cardinal Renato Martino said, “I have great esteem for Amnesty but doing this, they cut off their hands. I hope they don’t do this because if they do, they are disqualified as defenders of human rights.”

Cardinal Martino stated that by defining abortion as a human right, that Amnesty International would lose support from Catholic activists.

Martino said, “When they say ‘reproductive rights’, they mean abortion. Do they defend the rights of everybody? No! Not of the unborn because the unborn will be killed.”

Amnesty, which was founded in 1961 by Catholic lawyer Peter Benenson, has been consulting its members to see if they should drop their neutral stance on abortion and start pushing countries to drop laws that make abortion a crime.

Archbishop Raymond Roussin, of the Roman Catholic diocese of Vancouver, spoke out against proposals that would change AI’s policy on abortion last week, condemning any move that would “endorse abortion as a so-called human right,” reported CanWest News Service on Friday.

The message is finally getting out. I’ve seen a few blogs on this now and seen postings on Catholicforum.com; thecatholicherald.com and other sites.

But this is not just an issue for Catholics or Christians – there are still lots of members of AI (with and without religious convictions) who would be outraged by this if they knew what AI is considering. Please pass the message on and contact AI.

AI has long been seen as the guardian of human rights; one of the reasons it won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977. Indeed the organisation AI took a deliberate decision that it would not accept government or state funding so that it would neither be beholden to any state nor could be accused of being partial to the interests of any government. The number of lives that the organisation has saved is countless and underpinning this success is the moral authority the organisation could demonstrate.

Now some elements of the organisation want to substitute the moral authority that has stood it (and the countless people it has helped) in goodstead for fashionable political correctness. The right to an abortion is not enshrined in any declaration of human rights, indeed an abortion seems to contradict human rights. The decision to advcate abortion would be a political one – not a moral one; any such decision would finally turn AI into a political movement: contrary to the objectives of AI’s founders and to the detriment of the organisation.

According to the Catholic Register AI’s plan to adopt abortion policy appalls Canadian pro-lifers, see link above.

Apparently most delegates at the AI Canada’s AGM on May 26-28 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, wanted to change AI’s current neutral position on abortion, Alex Neve, the Canadian section’s general secretary, told Catholic News Service ion May 31. There was “a diversity of views, but the majority of participants were in favor of moving in that direction.”. Neve said a Canadian delegation would present the section’s views at an International Executive Committee meeting in July in Portugal. The committee has been authorized by AI’s International Council Meeting to set policy by the end of 2006 on the questions of “decriminalization of abortion, access to quality services for the management of complications arising from abortion, and legal, safe and accessible abortion in the cases of rape, sexual assault, incest and risk to a woman’s life.” A decision on the further question of whether a woman’s “right to physical and mental integrity includes her right to terminate her pregnancy” will be made at the next International Council Meeting in August 2007 in Mexico.

Some reaction to the Canadian AI decision.

The US section of AI has still not made clear its position on the matter of abortions. The section held an AGM last month in Oregon.

According to the Catholic News Agency Rep. Christopher Smith, R-N.J.,said he had questioned the U.S. section about its intentions and was told that “no decision has been made” or would be made before 2007.

“I would hope they reject it,” Mr Smith said. “They [Amnesty International] would cease to be a human rights organization and morph into just another anti-child, pro-abortion organization.”