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%

Question 2 Are there any further circumstances under which AI should develop policy on abortion? eg risk to mother’s health, severe foetal development, sex-selective abortions, unwanted pregnancy in forced or early marriages etc
Yes: 31.1% No: 42.6% Undecided: 8.0% No answer: 18.4%

Question 3 Should Amnesty International take the view that a woman’s right to physical
and mental integrity (her safety and health) includes her right to terminate her pregnancy within reasonable limitations, if she chooses to do so? So abortion should be legal, safe and accessible for all women?
Yes: 35.3% No: 52.8% Undecided: 9.6% No answer: 2.3%

Respondents’ views
In favour of rejecting the policy
– opposition to abortion under any circumstances, on the basis of
religious belief or other ethical considerations;

concern that the rights of the unborn child should also be considered in
any discussion on the issue of abortion;
– concern over the expanding scope of Amnesty International’s work
especially when other organisations already exist and are better placed
to work on the issue;
– concern that the adoption of policy on abortion could damage Amnesty
International’s international reputation and cause members to leave.

In favour of adopting policy
conviction that Amnesty International should support a woman’s right to
abortion without interference or opposition from the state or religious
– belief that the work of Amnesty International on the Stop Violence
Against Women campaign created a need to develop policy on sexual
and reproductive rights;
– perception that a gap in Amnesty International policy needs to be
plugged in order for Amnesty International to be able to engage in
debate on women’s rights and retain its credibility as an international
– concern about the health and legal implications for women resorting to
illegal and therefore possibly unsafe abortion. ”

The results will be used to debate resolutions put to the AGM next weekend.