September 2006


Thanks to Ed for pointing out there’s a new online petition urging Amnesty International to retain a neutral stance on abortion. There are several petitions out there at the moment; this one is aimed mainly at members of the US section and also calls for AIUSA to reverse a decision taken at this year’s AGM.

Among some well-made points, the wording notes that it is not just people who would describe themselves as anti-abortion who object to the proposed moves, but people who support abortion also object because of the damaging consequences to AI as an organisation. You can sign the petition below:

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/amnestyabortionrights/

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AIUK has announced some details of its consultation period. A somewhat biased explanatory paper was sent out with the latest edition of the organisation’s magazine; in an apparent attempt to appear impartial the paper gave details of links to a couple of anti-abortion websites, but that was pretty much the extent of any concession towards even-handedness. (Interestingly, the main picture on the cover of the magazine was for the current, and now quite ironic, “Save the Human” campaign.)

There will be a questionnaire for members to complete, but that will apparently not be ready until the end of this month. In the meantime, the following dates have been given for regional consultation meetings, you have to book and some of them charge £5 or so. But if at all possible, please do attend. Anyone with any information about the consultation process in other sections, let me know and I’ll post them here.

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CATHOLIC Bishops in the US have become the latest group of bishops to come out and condemn proposals to advocate abortion.

The bishops have written to AI warning the organisation against making a “tragic mistake” by advocating abortion.

In a letter that pulls few punches (see full text given below), Bishop William Skylstad, the president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, writes:

“To abandon this long held position would be a tragic mistake, dividing human rights advocates and diverting Amnesty International from its central and urgent mission of defending human rights as outlined in the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights.”

The bishops point out that abortion is not considered a right under International Law and that if AI made any moves to advocate abortion the organisation “would risk diminishing its own well-deserved moral credibility.” They also warn that by engaging in the debate, AI places in jeopardy the rights of many other people by diverting people’s attention away from other issues.
They go on to say that “it would be ironic for Amnesty International, as an advocate for human rights, to now deny what various international bodies have supported—namely two parties with rights when it comes to birth and abortion.

Last month the Bishops of England and Wales also urged AI against reconsidering the current neutral position on abortion and Canadian bishops have also voiced their concerns (see previous posts).

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Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to email. There are a couple of questions that have come up several times over the last few weeks, so here are the answers:

By far the biggest question asked is why I am reporting on so many Catholic sites and using Catholic bishops…the answer is quite simple: I am happy to use sources from anywhere that brings people’s attention to this issue (you’ll see that previous posts link to, among others, the BBC, and The Spectator – both of these are well worth seeing if you haven’t had a chance yet), the truth is that most coverage at the moment is coming from Catholic sources – and I’m about to post another one. But please let me know if you spot anything – I’m always looking.

I’ve also been asked why the site hasn’t been updated much recently. It’s not entirely down to laziness on my part (though that is a factor), but the main reason is that I don’t post anything unless it’s worthwhile and relevant. Again, if you have anything please let me know.

If emailing is too much of a hassle, by all means post a comment.

A CANADIAN BISHOP has said that plans for AI to advocate abortion is “an ill-conceived proposal and a gross betrayal of Amnesty’s mission to campaign for human rights.”

Bishop Fred HenryWriting in the Calgary Sun and posting on the Western Catholic Reporter’s website, Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary also said that the argument being proposed that a pro-abortion stance would go some way to stopping violence against women is the “height of stupidity”.

In his article Bishop Henry rehearses many of the arguments already outlined in previous posts, notably that the move would contravene Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that any move would severely damage the reputation and standing of AI.

In July the Canadian bishops condemned AI’s proposals and warned that “it would be a step backwards for an organization that has done such outstanding work in defending human life and the rights of the most vulnerable.”

Bishop Henry was one of the first bishops in Canada to speak out against AI’s proposals.