March 2007


When Do Human Rights Begin?
California Catholic Daily, CA – Mar 29, 2007
Last year Amnesty International USA passed a resolution supporting legalized abortion as a “human right.” Now the British section of Amnesty has joined them…

UK rights group ignores its own process, church leaders in …
Catholic Online, CA – Mar 28, 2007
EDINBURGH, Scotland (Catholic Online) – The decision by an international human rights organization to endorse a policy to support efforts legalizing…
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As expected, the Amnesty International UK section has endorsed the AIUK Board’s shameful proposals to advocate abortion as a human right.

Despite the fact that the majority of members who responded to a consultation voted against a change in the policy on abortion (at present the organisation has a neutral stance), the AIUK Board managed to get their resolution passed even though far more members responded to the consultation than were able to attend an early morning Sunday meeting in Edinburgh at last weekend’s AGM.

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Amnesty International UK has released the results of the consultation conducted over the last few months on the issue of whether or not to change the abortion policy. The results for whether this should happen are almost evenly split, despite the less-than-level playing field the organization gave to the consultation process. There were c1,800 responses; AIUK’s report emphasises that as this is less than 1% of the membership, most members have not expressed a view (would this point have been made so strongly if the vote against the moves had not been so high?). Here are the results as presented by AIUK:

Question 1 Do you agree that Amnesty International should develop policy to enable
research and action to achieve the following:
– decriminalisation of abortion
– access to quality services for the management of complications arising
from abortions
– access to abortion in cases of rape, sexual assault, incest, and risk to a
woman’s life
Yes: 45.4% No: 45.7% Undecided: 8.0% No answer: 0.8% (more…)

The following is taken from this week’s Universe, a Catholic newspaper in the UK.

Amnesty International votes on abortion stance
16 March 2007. Catholic members of Amnesty International are being urged to make sure they do not miss out on a vote on the abortion issue at the organisation’s AGM.
Delegates at the three-day conference, which takes place at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh from Friday March 23 will be discussing whether Amnesty International should adopt a pro-choice stance.
Two motions supporting the argument will be put forward, with an alternative E3 motion proposing the group remains neutral on the subject also being discussed.
Catholic members are being urged to vote for this. (more…)

I came across this blog post today, which highlights the importance of the need to continue lobbying AI and all members on the issue. The writer attended a university meeting of Amnesty International and sadly the vote seemed to be overwhelmingly in favor of advocating abortion in certain circumstances; I suspect that this scenario will be reflected around other campuses. He describes how a “Women’s Lib” society representative was there; it is just a pity that so many people from women’s organizations do not realize that anti-abortion campaigners want equal, fundamental human rights for both sexes: the right to life. I think that this was at a UK university, so with AIUK’s AGM still 10 days or so away there is still time to campaign.

With many sections holding their AGMs about now, it’s probably useful to remind ourselves of an argument that will undoubtedly be trotted out by some of the members of the organization that are campaigning for the advocacy of abortion. An argument that, as Michael Johann pointed out in a comment to this blog, AI Secretary General Irene Khan is happy to make during the less-than-impartial consultation period. [In an interview with the Weltwoche from Switzerland Irene Khan said: There is no human right to life for a fetus. (Sixth Question/Answer)] Setting aside the question of whether or not it is proper for the Secretary General to make these arguments at all at this time, the argument that the unborn child has no rights under international law is not only biased interpretation of law, it is also quite wrong.

Those proposing advocating abortion will usually try and shout you down and rhyme off some legislation they claim supports their view. The fact is that the following documents provide strong commitments to protecting human rights of all without discrimination. This is one of the reasons that AI has stayed neutral on the position fo so long; the organization recognized the rights could be extended to the unborn and knew that this was specifically discussed at many of the draft stages of the documents.

  • the United Nations Charter,
  • the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)
  • the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948)
  • the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966),
  • the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989),
  • the Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1959)

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The 8th March is the annual International Women’s Day. This is an important day to celebrate a movement that has done an enormous amount of good work over the years to protect women and help women across the globe secure opportunities to achieve their full potential, without discrimination because of their sex.

There is, of course, still much work to be done, which is why many local Amnesty International groups will hold special events this week to celebrate IWD, and some will even link it to the ongoing campaign to stop violence against women. Now, no right thinking person would condone violence against anyone; woman, child or man. But on International Women’s Day we should take a moment to think about the violence that is being inflicted on females in the womb.

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