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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I HAD AN email this morning about the blog asking why there was so much information from the Catholic Church. We’re always happy to hear from people and you can email us at saveamnesty @ gmail.com (you’ll need to remove the spaces on either side of the @ symbol – they’re added to reduce spam).

We do have a lot of information from the Catholic Church and the Catholic hierarchy – that is because many of the Church’s statements reflects the position we hold over this issue and the Church has been more vocal about the issue than any other organisation. But we have stressed in the past that this is not just a Catholic matter – and in the blog there are links to comments on the issue from different Christian denominations, other religions, including Islam, and those with no faith. We would be delighted to consider all comments from different religious groups and those with no affinity – and would be grateful for any information on this.

While we freely admit that we object to Amnesty International’s newly adopted abortion policy on moral and ethical grounds, that is far from our only objection and concern; for example, we’ve argued in the past that the policy is:

  • Inconsistent with AI’s s stated aim of protecting human rights;its arguments for other human rights; and inconsistent with international human rights laws, treaties and conventions. (more…)

ELEANOR Roosevelt inspecting the UN Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Included in the Declaration is the right to life. According to Amnesty International’s new policy on abortion apparently there was some small print in there that she missed: AI thinks that you have to be at a certain stage of life before they apply and until then other people’s rights take priority…some people are just more equal than others, the human rights organisation appears to believe. I think the bottom picture should also include “subject to status”! Thanks to KD for sending this in. (more…)

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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