SIXTY-FIVE YEARS ago a conference of officials from a well-known organization met in the suburb of a great city to discuss a problem.

The result of that conference shocked and sickened the world; it stripped millions of human beings of their fundamental rights and dignities – including their right to life – and it demonstrated the depths of inhumanity.

Today we vilify those Nazi officials who met at Berlin’s Wannsee conference in1942 as monsters. Of course, their actions may indeed have been monstrous, but they were human, just like the rest of us. And perhaps it was that spark of humanity left in some of them that made them realize what they were debating was, if not unpalatable to them, would be deplorable to the outside world. So, with breathtaking spin, they coined a phrase to soften what was really going on; an apparently innocuous, safe, and acceptable phrase to refer to their plans. We now know that that phrase was a euphemism for state-sanctioned murder, butchery and barbarism; and it is a phrase that still has the power to send shivers up the spine when contemplating the underlying reality: The Final Solution.

Today officials from an entirely different, well-known organization are meeting in one of the world’s great cities: their decision will effect millions of individuals and they will use a euphemism to cover up the unpalatable reality of the effect of their policy.

When Amnesty International officials endorse their abortion policy, as they are expected to do at their meeting in Mexico City this week, there should be no doubt that what they are doing is declaring millions of individuals non-human beings; stripping them of their rights; ignoring international treaties that state the unborn should be given special protection; and removing the protection of a once-great human rights organization from millions of people at a time of their Wannsee Conference Venuelife when they are most vulnerable.

Amnesty International claims that it is being mis-represented if anyone dares to suggest that its new abortion policy supports abortion. AI leaders are, in fact, reluctant to use the term “abortion” and prefer to use a phrase that is apparently innocuous and acceptable: “stopping violence against women”.

There is an inherent criticism in this phrase: if you oppose the policy, you actually support violence against women. This is, of course, reminiscent of the you’re-either-for-us-or-against-us ploy used to garner support for anti-terrorism measures and the patriot bill, which was, ironically, a tactic the Bush Administration was heavily criticized for by AI.

But not only does AI’s euphemism for disenfranchising millions of people of their rights cover up the reality, it also sullies the true work being done to protect women from violence.

No right thinking person is in favor of violence against women (or anyone else); but no right thinking person would go on to advocate or even sanction compounding that violence with further violence against an unborn individual.

For centuries illusionists have given ’em the old razzle dazzle to distract audiences from the assistant hiding in the box or the hocus pocus of a charlatan. And for years we have been entertained by it. But in the internet age many of us treat what we are told with skepticism; we want to know why people are attempting to distract us from what’s really going on. We are not as innocent as we once were – and who can blame us – the razzle dazzle has long-since tarnished. When presented with phrases like the “final solution” or “extraordinary rendition” we now ask some follow-up questions to define their meaning; even when the truth is uncomfortable or shocking.

So AI can call its abortion policy by any name it wants; it can try to fool us with bundling it up with a legitimate human rights issue, but we can be clear: an outrage by any other name is just as putrid (to misquote Shakespeare).

By adopting this policy on abortion the AI leadership changes at a stroke the organization’s remit, its reputation, its membership and its effectiveness. It does this to the detriment of the human rights movement as a whole. For that, we should look past the shiny glitter thrown in front of us in an attempt to distract, pacify and delight us and instead be angry.

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