reproductive


EVEN AL JAZEERA has covered Amnesty International’s new decision to support abortion. The clip here shows an interview between AI’s Widney Brown and Helen Alvare of the Catholic University of America.

Widney Brown has been one of the people zealously pushing the policy onto the organisation with a dogmatic belief that abortion is a human right. In fact in her fervour, Ms Brown apparently has not bothered to find out about what Catholic teaching is in relation to the matter, preferring instead to use crude (and completely erroneous) stereotypes of what she believes to be Catholic teaching. This is another demonstration that the organisation has been forced into this by a leadership not fully comprehending what it was doing but just clinging on to the belief that it was right. To be fair, in the middle of the interview poor Ms Brown lets it slip that it wasn’t just Catholic beliefs she didn’t fully grasp, apparently she didn’t quite realise what Amnesty US has done in relation to its interpretation of women’s health and its stance on supporting the availability of partial birth abortions.

Now other AI spokespeople have been a little circumspect about the numbers leaving AI – see, for example, Phillippe Hensmans’s view who almost complained it wasn’t fair that the Catholic Church was asking its members to think twice before supporting AI. Not so Ms Brown, who says that there has not been an exodus of people leaving the organisation as was predicted when the policy was announced in April (actually other reports contradict her, and she hasn’t produced her statistics)….but, hold your horses Widney: surely, the policy wasn’t announced in April – well, at least that’s what Amnesty International would have us believe. In fact Amnesty went out of its way to try to cover up the policy with confidential internal documents and attempts to mislead members into thinking that the consultation it claims was so democratic was continuing right up until August.

What happened was when the top secret documents got into the public domain thanks to Consistent Life, the hapless Widney gave an interview to Reuters about the policy….red faces all round as Amnesty’s leadership realised it had been well and truly caught out.

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THE POPE said he spoke for unborn children when he warned that abortion was not a human right and pleaded for countries not to allow their abortion legislation to treat children as illnesses.

Although Pope Benedict XVI did not directly refer to Amnesty International’s decision to campaign for abortion in the statement he made in Austria on Friday, his remarks are a thinly-veiled criticism of the human rights organisation which has recently equated abortion with a human right. The Pope also called for countries to retain laws restricting abortions; a position that is also contrary to AI’s newly adopted abortion policy. AI was founded by Peter Benenson after he converted to Catholicism and its new policy has been widely criticised by the Catholic Church (see previous posts) and high-ranking Vatican officials.

The full transcript of the Pope’s speech is available here. The pertinent paragraphs follow:

It was in Europe that the notion of human rights was first formulated. The fundamental human right, the presupposition of every other right, is the right to life itself. This is true of life from the moment of conception until its natural end. Abortion, consequently, cannot be a human right – it is the very opposite. It is “a deep wound in society”, as the late Cardinal Franz König never tired of repeating.

“In stating this, I am not expressing a specifically ecclesial concern. Rather, I wish to act as an advocate for a profoundly human need, speaking out on behalf of those unborn children who have no voice. In doing so, I do not close my eyes to the difficulties and the conflicts which many women are experiencing, and I realize that the credibility of what we say also depends on what the Church herself is doing to help women in trouble.

“In this context, then, I appeal to political leaders not to allow children to be considered as a form of illness, nor to abolish in practice your legal system’s acknowledgment that abortion is wrong. I say this out of a concern for humanity.”

Pope Benedict XVI, 7 September 2007

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WHENEVER Amnesty International is chastised for its new abortion policy, which is more frequently than they thought, representatives of the organisation’s leadership rush to defend themselves and claim they are being misinterpreted.

“Amnesty does not,” they claim, “advocate abortion as a human right. It recognises abortion as a sexual and reproductive right and so it can’t stand by and let this right be ignored.”

At the same time they make the claim that AI still has no position on whether abortion is good or bad and also claim AI still has no view on when life begins (if this were indeed the case, then the Amnesty leadership might explain why they are happy to take a chance that innocent people are having fundamental rights removed by being aborted, without AI making any comment).

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I MENTIONED the other day that there were two pieces in this week’s Tablet magazine about Amnesty International’s decision to adopt a pro-abortion policy. The other article is predominantly about the decision of the English Bishop of East Anglia Michael Evans to resign after 30-odd years with the organisation, but it also touches on a couple of other issues; one of which is a brief comment attributed to Amnesty International member and veteran campaigner Bruce Kent (pictured below), which, if correct, I find a little odd coming from a campaigner of his pedigree.

According to the Tablet, Mr Kent is optimistic that a way forward can be found to allow Amnesty International members opposed to abortion to remain members if their contributions and efforts were not used to support the pro abortion policy (I do not believe this to be in any way feasible, but the logistics of that is not my concern here).

Bruce Kent is a man of peace and I am sure that his suggestion – if it is his – comes from his innate conciliatory desire. But the suggestion necessitates Amnesty International becoming a very broad church to accommodate the vastly different views of human rights, and it makes the argument from a relativist viewpoint: where everyone’s view is right and truth is only a matter of perspective. (more…)

A FEW MORE comments about Amnesty International’s decision to adopt a pro-abortion stance. More to come…

“People who support so-called ‘abortion rights’ are probably very pleased and feel they’ve scored another ‘coup’. But I think it is going to leave Amnesty International with a very questionable reputation from now on.” Rev Thomas King, SJ, Professor of Theology, Georgetown University, United States

“AS ABORTION brings about the death of a child before birth, it clearly violates the right of a child to life. What then of the mother and any rights she might claim? The position in relation to children’s rights versus adult rights should be clear and is arguably covered by the paramountcy principle which states that: “the welfare of the child is paramount” and this is enshrined in International, European and UK legislative frameworks, hence the Children Act 1989″Dr Rosemary Keenan, National Board of Catholic Women, England & Wales

“I DO not see how anyone who is committed to equal respect for all human life, whether on religious or philosophical grounds, can remain a member of Amnesty International.” Ray Campbell, director of the Queensland Bioethics Centre, Australia (more…)

SCOTLAND’S most senior Catholic, Cardinal Keith O’Brien of Edinburgh says he will leave Amnesty International following the organisation’s decision to adopt a pro abortion policy.

The cardinal, who has been a member of AI for 40 years, said he was leaving the organisation as a “matter of conscience”. He commented: “That basic and most fundamental of all human rights, the right to life is recognised by the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the document upon which Amnesty International was founded. Sadly now Amnesty International seems to be placing itself at the forefront of a campaign for a universal ‘right’ to abortion in contravention to that basic right to human life.”
In contrast to many other countries, the Scottish Catholic hierarchy has been quiet on the issue until now and this is a welcome, though belated, message from the Scottish Catholic church. The full text of Cardinal O’Brien’s comments are given below.

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THE ISSUE as covered by the UK’s Tablet magazine. The Tablet is a Catholic magazine read widely around the English speaking world and unfortunately its coverage of the issue to date has been disappointing. Nevertheless, two pieces appear in this week’s edition, as well as a leader criticising Amnesty’s decision.

Amnesty loses friends over abortion policy

THE VATICAN this week intensified its call to Catholics to stop supporting Amnesty International following the pressure group’s decision to back the legalisation of abortion.

AI affirmed a revised abortion policy at the conclusion of its leadership council meeting in Mexico last week, making official a departure from its longtime neutrality on the issue despite protests from many Catholic leaders.

“With the prevention of violence against women as its major campaigning focus AI’s leaders committed themselves anew to work for universal respect for sexual and reproductive rights,” the organisation said in a statement released after the meeting.

Under the new policy, the group said, AI would support the decriminalisation of abortion, push for access to health care for women suffering from complications of abortion procedures, and “defend women’s access to abortio, within reasonable gestational limits, when their health or human rights are in danger”.

(more…)

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