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|Amnesty International and Abortion |
Last updated March 18, 2008
Action Alert, July 12, 2007
Amnesty International is running a participants survey, so this is a good opportunity to express dismay at their recent move toward supporting abortion. They even include the euphemism a women's right to choose in their list of issues!
While they didn't have a spot for general comment, I put my comment in the Other box on Question #20.
For those who would like to do something similar, the address is:
Amnesty International Distresses
Many of Its Supporters
Contact: Rachel M. MacNair, Ph.D.
AI Campaign Coordinator, Consistent Life
Phone: 816-753-2057 (Central Time Zone)
Despite pleas from many supporters, Amnesty International (AI) has recently adopted a new policy which ignores human rights documents it has historically advocated for; specifically, The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Child states that every child needs special safeguards and care, including legal protection, before as well as after birth. [Resolution 1386(XIV) of 20 November 1959]. AI has stated that abortion should be decriminalized and the governments should see that there is access to it in particular cases. While it maintains its previous stand against blatantly forced abortions, the pressures that coerce and abandon women to abortion have been ignored. AI decision-makers appear unaware that women who have had abortions make up one of the largest constituency groups of the anti-abortion movement.
The AI International Executive Committee took this action despite indications that substantial numbers of members disapproved. Internal polling in AI’s U.K. chapter showed a plurality against it. The results of an on-line vote of members in the United States last Fall have yet to be announced. A member who tried to leaflet other members on this issue at the U.S. national conference on March 24 was barred, and when she asked if she was being censored, she was told yes. For more details and documentation, see http://www.consistent-life.org/ai.html.
A registry of AI supporters who pled with AI not to take this step is available at http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/consistentlife. Signers include Fr. Daniel Berrigan, who commented: My moral conviction on abortion and the rights of the unborn are more serious than 'a point of view' . . . It's as close to my conscience as war and the death penalty. Other signers include Jim Forest, former General Secretary of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation; Prisoner of Conscience Tom Cordero; and Cecilia Brown, noted for her international gay-rights activism. Shelley Douglass, known for her leadership in anti-nuclear weapons activism, states, as time passes, we will come to understand the violence of abortion.
Many of the signatories have worked closely on a number of Amnesty's programs. Frank McNeirney, national coordinator of an anti-death penalty coalition, worked with Amnesty's Faith in Action Initiative against capital punishment. Mary Grace, a Freedom Writer, helped in advising letter-writing campaigns. Also included are Thomas Friedl, an assistant in Germany's Parliament; Raymond Noble, a former New Jersey Attorney General for Civil Rights; Oklahoma State Senator Rebecca Hamilton; and Nadine Wu, a former intern with AI.
Consistent Life is a network of over 200 organizations that oppose war, abortion, the death penalty, euthanasia, poverty and the death penalty.
Consistent Life Pleads
with Amnesty International
by Rachel MacNair
Vice President, Consistent Life
Updated October 17, 2007
Being a long-time Amnesty International member and having registered for their national conference, I was passing out leaflets as people left the final plenary there. Approached by a worried-looking woman who asked if I had coordinated this with the authorities, I cheerfully say no, but that I was a member who had registered. She took a copy and left, while I passed out more to people who took them in the friendly fashion to which activist audiences would be accustomed. Then she came back and told me it was against the rules for anyone to pass out leaflets having to do with policy; if I wanted to discuss policy, the place for that was the session voting on resolutions the next day. Knowing that meeting was already covering nine resolutions in only three hours, and that the idea that an individual could bring up a concern on an item not already on the agenda was absurd, I simply asked her if AIUSA was therefore censoring people. And she answered: Yes.
This vignette was the clearest example of how the decision moving AI in the direction of abortion as a right has moved. Technically, the three points of the new policy are that pregnant victims of rape or incest are entitled to abortion; that while it need not be legalized it should be decriminalized; and that medical care after botched abortions should be provided. That last point is unobjectionable, of course, except for the fact that the other two points limit governments' ability to prevent the botched abortions they're supposed to provide aftercare for.
I did in fact have a long conversation with one of the people on the International Executive Committee which is making the abortion decision, on the day previous to the leafleting censorship. It was a very satisfying conversation, except for two things. One was that it clearly should have happened near the beginning or middle of the consultation process on the policy, rather than near the end, and something like it would have if their efforts were sincere. He didn't know basic things - for example, that women who've had abortions are one of the largest constituency groups in the pro-life movement. The other problem was that the very next morning, in the workshop on implementing the new policy, he reversed what he had said that evening about the discussion still being on-going though the final vote was imminent. He and the other panelists said that this was essentially a done deal, and we should go ahead and plan for it. In fact, one remark he made about how staff people have had the ability to say the decision was only under consideration up to now sounded to my ears like the decision was actually settled long ago. The consultation process was a ruse to make it look legitimate, and I was unable to ascertain whether they knew they were fooling people with that or whether they had actually fooled themselves into thinking so as well.
Word is that polling of the UK membership showed the majority wishing the organization to remain abortion-neutral (see http://www.lifenews.com/int237.html). The U.S. members were not all aware that there even was a web-based vote, such as it was, hidden on the web page members-only section with no publicity, and a deadline of December 1. How it turned out, the Board members never said, even though they were clearly process-oriented people and a solid vote would have strengthened their case considerably when they claimed the membership was for it. One staff person for membership mentioned to me that there was a need for education on the new policy since a lot of members didn't understand it well. When I pointed out that if they didn't understand it, that means they also didn't decide it, she had no answer.
Consistent Life had also sent four people to the AI Midwest regional conference. Though not allowed to have an official table or to leaflet there either, they did have a table nearby through the university. They report attempts to try to get reconsideration of last year's vote to consider the new abortion policy were not satisfying in terms of having confidence that full democracy is being practiced.
There was a student from Marquette Students for Life who leafleted the first day, out on the street where AI had no authority. But she found that very few conference attendees were going in and out there, since they were staying at the same hotel where the conference was. So attendees had an added layer of protection against being faced with leaflets. Someone with Democrats for Life found the same thing on the morning of the last day, but he went up to the conference itself and leafleted for about 15 minutes before he was caught at it. We had different leaflets; mine was a copy of the on-line petition that had been signed by 661 AI supporters as of March 12, 2007. I did get leaflets to most of the crowd at the anti-genocide rally for Darfur, where of course I was one of many leafletters; that crowd included attendees and people in town. I also did get a copy of the petition into the hands of each member of the US Board of Directors, who had also received a lengthier letter from Consistent Life on the topic at their last Board meeting in New York.
There are two issues here: one is the abortion policy itself, and one is how much it's being decided by members and supporters as opposed to being decided by an elite who knows what's good for us. One Board member, in explaining the policy, said that AI was normally out in front on progress in human rights, but here was a case where they were lagging behind other groups such as the European Court. But of course the dispute here is over what would constitute being out in front on using violence to solve problems. They also commented that they expected some problems at first just as they had with the death penalty, but they're expecting that to subside over time. To the consistent-life mind, the analogy to the death penalty opposition is particularly distressing; it would be more consistent, after all, to take a position against abortion for that reason, and be out in front that way.
So the decision is made - evidence suggests that it always was - and many of those of us AI supporters who are heartsick about it no longer have a voice inasmuch as it can be said that we ever did. We therefore suggest the following organizations (which have no position on abortion) for those who wish to re-direct their human rights donation budget elsewhere:
We are hoping to also find some alternatives for those student groups who no longer wish to affiliate with AI but would like to continue their good work. Suggestions are welcome.
It would be good to include a note to let these groups know that they are getting funds re-directed from AI and why, to make it less likely that they will move in a pro-abortion direction in the future.
If you wish to drop a line to AI:
- Amnesty International USA
5 Penn Plaza, 14th floor
New York, NY 10001
Phone: (212) 807-8400
Fax: (212) 463-9193
- Amnesty International International Secretariat
1 Easton Street
London WC1X 0DW, UK
An Alternative for Student GroupsSome schools in Australia have formed the Benenson Society as an abortion-neutral alternative human rights group for students. It is named after Peter Benenson, the founder of Amnesty International (AI). It sponsors human rights campaigns similar to those of AI.
Student groups and individual students anywhere in the world may affiliate with the Benenson Society. Others may be associate members.
The Benenson Society will cooperate on specific issues with AI, while not having any formal link to it. It will also work with other groups such as Consistent Life, Christians Against Torture, Aid to the Church in Need, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, and Human Rights First.
Information from Amnesty InternationalAmnesty International USA has produced their own explanatory information for members. It can be a bit hard to access so we've compiled the pieces together into one PDF file for easy use.
Several national sections of Amnesty International have proposed resolutions relating to abortion to the International Council Meeting in Mexico August 11-17, 2007. We have extracted those resolutions from a larger document and put them into one PDF file for easy use.
After the International Council Meeting, AI issued an Updated explanation of the policy.
- Save Amnesty blog
- Save Amnesty International blog
- British Catholic Parishes Must Deny Amnesty International Space Over Abortion, by Steven Ertelt, LifeNews.com, November 19, 2007
- Boycott Amnesty International on Catholic Campuses, by Steven Paul, Ivory Tower Heretics, November 12, 2007
- Schools set up Amnesty pro-life alternative, Catholic News, October 22, 2007
- Amnesty International Urges Dominican Republic to Legalize Abortion, by Matthew Cullinan Hoffman, LifeSite, October 18, 2007
- Losing Amnesty, by Christopher Rakovec, The Heights (Boston College), October 11, 2007
- Amnesty for Infants?, by Kate Bluett, The Distributist Review, October 11, 2007
- Texas Bishops Respond to Amnesty International, Texas Catholic Conference, October 8, 2007
- Australian bishops urge break with Amnesty International, Catholic World News, October 4, 2007
- A Christian alternative to Amnesty International, Independent Catholic News, October 3, 2007
- A sad farewell to Amnesty, by Pam Field, MercatorNet, September 30, 2007
- Catholic Schools and Amnesty International, Independent Catholic News, September 28, 2007
- QCEC seeks consultation with bishops over Amnesty, Catholic News, September 27, 2007
- Australian Archdiocese Directs 328 Catholic Schools to Withdraw Support from Amnesty International, by Meg Jalsevac, LifeSiteNews, September 25, 2007
- Catholic schools bar Amnesty for abortions policy, by David McKittrick, The Independent, September 22, 2007
- Amnesty’s own words: states must ensure access to abortion “in almost all cases”, by Jen R., Turn the Clock Forward, September 21, 2007
- Australia, Northern Ireland Schools Leave Amnesty International Over Abortion, by Steven Ertelt, LifeNews.com, September 20, 2007
- Schools 'cut links with Amnesty', BBC, September 19, 2007
- Irish Diocese Advises Catholic School to Suspend Amnesty Chapter, by Meg Jalsevac, LifeSiteNews.com, September 18, 2007
- Amnesty faces ban in Northern Ireland's Catholic schools, by Henry McDonald, The Guardian, September 18, 2007
- Rift Between Amnesty International and Catholic Church Continues to Widen, Catholic News Agency, EWTN, September 18, 2007
- Italy Bishop Chides Amnesty on Abortion, Associated Press, NewsMax.com, September 17, 2007
- Reverse pro-abortion policy, choose good of person over autonomy, Aussie bishops’ prez tells human-rights group, Catholic Online, September 12, 2007
- Should Amnesty Terminate Abortion Support?, by Okiya Omtata Okoiti, East African, September 11, 2007
- Wilson calls on Amnesty to reverse abortion policy, Catholic News, September 11, 2007
- Choosing a Side, by Jocelyn Green, Christianity Today, September 7, 2007 (October issue)
- Amnesty stops meeting at Catholic school, by Brian Kelly, The Sault Star, September 7, 2007
- Amnesty suffers huge membership fall out over abortion issue, Bromley Times, September 6, 2007
- Canada Pro-Life Catholics Seek Bishops' Ruling on Amnesty International, by Steven Ertelt, LifeNews.com, September 4, 2007
- Amnesty's abortion stance splits grassroots support, by Cahal, Milmo, The Independent, August 31, 2007
- Dominic Lawson: Amnesty International, the Catholic Church, and some profound questions of life and death, by Dominic Lawson, The Independent, August 31, 2007
- Amnesty International sells out, by Deirdre A. McQuade, Tidings Online, August 31, 2007
- Amnesty International's abortion position draws criticism, by Jim Coggins, canadianchristianity.com, August 30, 2007
- Rock for Life Corrects Times of London: Christina Aguilera Actually Supports Abortion, by Hilary White, LifeSite, August 30, 2007
- Amnesty International Adieu, by Doug Bandow, The American Spectator, August 30, 2007
- NBCW endorses bishop's response to Amnesty abortion policy, Independent Catholic News, August 30, 2007
- Amnesty International Rejects Church, by Tom McFeely, National Catholic Register, August 29, 2007 (September 2-8 issue)
- Cardinal Ends 40 Years with Amnesty International over Abortions, by Maria Mackay, Christian Today, August 28, 2007
- ‘God is bigger than Amnesty Int’l’ – U.S. bishops decry decision to promote abortion, Catholic Online, August 27, 2007
- Pro-life rockers clash with Amnesty, by Maurice Chittenden and Dipesh Gadher, The Sunday Times (London), August 26, 2007
- Pro-life rock stars 'duped' by Amnesty, WorldNetDaily, August 26, 2007
- Catholic Bishops Decry Amnesty International Decision to Support Abortion, by Bishop William S. Skylstad, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, August 24, 1947
- Amnesty International: What Part of Human Rights Don’t You Understand?, by John Mallon, Spirit & Life, August 24, 2007
- Amnesty International – Abortion Advocacy, Right to Life New Zealand, August 24, 2007
- Amnesty vs. the Vatican: Does Abortion Now Threaten to Divide Amnesty?, interview (on YouTube video) with Widney Brown, Amensty International, and Helen Alvare, Catholic University of America, AlJazeera, August 23, 2007
- Amnesty rejects Vatican criticism on abortion policy, Catholic World News, August 23, 2007
- Amnesty International Responds to Catholic Church's Abortion Condemnation, by Steven Ertelt, LifeNews.com, August 23, 2007
- Amnesty International Says Abortion on Demand is a Human Right, World Congress of Familes, August 23, 2007
- Amnesty International endorses abortion, by David R. Sands, Washington Times, August 23, 2007
- Amnesty Malta will not campaign for abortion rights, by James DeBono, Malta Today, August 22, 2007
- Vote Life, Canada! Condemns Amnesty International's New Abortion Policy and Accuses Catholic Bishops of Canada of Indifference to the Killing of Unborns, ChristiansUnite, August 22, 2007
- “Ours is a movement dedicated to upholding human rights, not specific theologies.”, by Pete Baker, Slugger O'Toole blog, August 22, 2007
- Cardinal condemns Amnesty Int’l ratification of new abortion policy, Catholic News Agency, August 22, 2007
- Backlash Against Amnesty International Continues Over Pro-Abortion View, by Steven Ertelt, LifeNews.com, August 21, 2007
- Amnesty International Becomes a Pro-Choice Organization, NewsMax.com, August 21, 2007
- Aussie Catholic college, Brit bishop resign from int’l rights group over abortion policy, Catholic Online, August 21, 2007
- Sydney Catholic College quits Amnesty, Catholic News, August 21, 2007
- Vatican: Abortion in Rape Cases is "Violence Answered with Further Violence, Murder with Murder", Clerical Whispers, August 21, 2007
- Amnesty International Ireland Says It Has Not Opted Out of Organization's Abortion Advocacy Contrary to Reports, by Elizabeth O'Brien, LifeSite, August 21, 2007
- Ireland Amnesty International Affiliate Won't Promote Pro-Abortion View, by Steven Ertelt, LifeNews.com, August 19, 2007
- Amnesty International Reaffirms Pro-Abortion Position, Bishop Resigns, by Steven Ertelt, LifeNews.com, August 19, 2007
- Bishop resigns over Amnesty move, BBC News, August 19, 2007
- Amnesty International decides to support abortion and betray its ideals, by John Barry, John Barry's Blog, August 19, 2007
- Against torture and the death penalty, except in the womb, by Fr. Ray Blake, Saint Mary Magdalen, Brighton, UK Blog, August 19, 2007
- Amnesty ends abortion neutrality, by Robert Pigott, BBC News, August 18, 2007
- Amnesty Approved Selective-Abortion Drawing The Ire Of Catholics, by Joseph Keenan, Christian Today, August 18, 2007
- Amnesty International – Abortion Advocacy, Right to Life New Zealand, August 18, 2007
- Abortion Causes Rift at Amnesty International, Zenit.org, August 17, 2007
- Amnesty International Will Likely Ratify Pro-Abortion Stance This Week, by Steven Ertelt, LifeNews.com, August 13, 2007
- Amnesty International claims to be godless, by RobK, Kyrie Eleison, August 13, 2007
- Amnesty faces Catholic church boycott over abortion policy, by Duncan Campbell, The Guardian, August 10, 2007
- Amnesty International Falters, Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, August 10, 2007
- Can Catholics still support Amnesty International?, Catholic News (Singapore), August 10, 2007
- Bishop: Tomorrow is Last Chance for AI on Abortion or Catholics Will Boycott, by Elizabeth O'Brien, LifeSite, August 10, 2007
- Amnesty International Faces Last Chance to Change Pro-Abortion Stance, by Elizabeth O'Brien, LifeSite, July 31, 2007
- Despite furor, Amnesty International unlikely to reverse new stance on abortion, Associated Press, July 26, 2007
- Abortion International?, by Lisa-Ann, Healing the Culture, July 18, 2007
- Action Alert: Amnesty (aka Abortion) International, by Bradley Mattes, Life Issues Institute, July 17, 2007
- Amnesty International moves toward change in abortion policy, by Father John Duncan, Catholic Times, July 15, 2007
- DFLA Urges Members to Contact Amnesty International, Democrats for Life of America, July 10, 2007
- Catholic Colleges Asked to Withdraw Support from Amnesty International for Abortion Advocacy, by Elizabeth O'Brien, LifeSite, July 5, 2007
- U.S. bishops to Amnesty Int’l: Reject ‘pro-abortion’ stance and restore moral credibility, Catholic Online, July 3, 2007
- Mission Betrayed, by Fr. Tom Washburn, OFM, A Friar's Life, July 3, 2007
- Kenya: Catholic Church to Cut Ties With Abortion Lobby, The Nation (Nairobi, Kenya), June 26, 2007
- Parting of the ways?, by Thomas Norton, The Tablet, June 23, 2007
- My Take on the Amnesty/Abortion/Roman Catholic Church Thang, by Rebecca, Becca's World, June 22, 2007
- Amnesty International has lost its heart, by Bishop Michael Pfeifer, OMI, The Online Angelus, June 22, 2007
- Amnesty International: What Part of Murder Don’t You Understand?, by Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer, Spirit & Life, June 22, 2007
- “Instant Karma,” instant death, California Catholic Daily, June 21, 2007
- Amnesty's new stand, Our Sunday Visitor, June 21, 2007, July 1 issue
- Irish affiliate at odds with Amnesty International on abortion, Catholic World News, June 20, 2007
- Amnesty betrayed its mission of supporting rights, by Catholic News Service, Western Catholic Reporter, June 20, 2007
- Amnesty's Fall, by the Editors, National Catholic Register, June 19, 2007, July 1-7 issue
- Amnesty International Betrays its Mission!, by Father Joe, June 18, 2007
- How does that go again?, by swissmiss, St. Monica's Kneeler, June 17, 2007
- Abortion – The First Human Rights Abuse [Amnesty International now pro-abortion], by Ken Ong, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Free Republic, June 17, 2007
- Vatican Says Catholics Should Abstain From Amnesty International, by Francis X. Rocca, Religious News Service, Ethics Daily, June 15, 2007
- Amnesty International & Abortion (Part Two), by Mary Krane Derr, Nonviolent Choice blog, June 14, 2007
- Say No to Amnesty International, by E.I. Sanchez, The Christian Alert, June 14, 2007
- After Vatican criticism, Amnesty defends new policy on abortion, by Simon Caldwell, Catholic News Service, June 14, 2007
- Vatican: Catholics and Catholic Organizations "Must" Withdraw Support of Amnesty International over Abortion Support, by Elizabeth O'Brien, LifeSiteNews.com, June 14, 2007
- Amnesty International Responds to Catholic Church Boycott Over Abortion, by Steven Ertelt, LifeNews.com, June 14, 2007
- Vatican Official Urges Catholic Church to Boycott Amnesty International Over Abortion, by Steven Ertelt, LifeNews.com, June 14, 2007
- Vatican, Amnesty in abortion stoush, Catholic News, June 14, 2007
- Catholics urged to leave Amnesty, Independent Catholic News, June 14, 2007
- Abortion Rights Is an Evil Agenda, interview with Cardinal Renato Martino, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, National Catholic Register, posted June 12, 2007, June 17-23, 2007 issue
- No Amnesty For the Unborn, by Tom McFeely, National Catholic Register, posted June 12, 2007, June 17-23, 2007 issue
- Reply to my email from Amnesty, Merry's deep space, June 1, 2007
- The wrong road, by Joe Sinasac, The Catholic Register, in Catholic Online, May 31, 2007
- Battle Amnesty need not have brought on itself, by Larissa Dubecki, The Age (Australia), May 29, 2007
- Amnesty in hot water on abortion, by Barney Zwartz, The Age (Australia), May 28, 2007
- Life Foundation in Spain denounces Amnesty International embracing abortion, Catholic News Agency, May 23, 2007
- U.S. Catholic congressman attacks Amnesty International as ‘another pro-abortion organization’, by Jerry Filteau, Catholic News Service, May 21, 2007
- Life Change (featuring CL Vice president Rachel MacNair), World Magazine, May 19, 2007 issue
- Prochoice Amnesty means no choice for members, by Chris Middleton, Eureka Street, May 17, 2007
- Amnesty policy change completely undermines work, Family Life International speaks out against new AI policy, Scoop (New Zealand), May 14, 2007
- Amnesty International blasted for pro-abortion stance, by Jim Brown, One News Now, May 11, 2007
- Amnesty International Official Discusses New Pro-Abortion Position, by Steven Ertelt, LifeNews.com, May 11, 2007
- Amnesty International Publicly Admits New Policy to Lobby for Abortion, by Gudrun Schultz, LifeSite, May 11, 2007
- Amnesty International update, by Jen R., Turn the Clock Forward blog, May 9, 2007
- Amnesty International Comes Under Fire for Taking Pro-Abortion Stance, by Steven Ertelt, LifeNews.com, May 7, 2007
- Working to Protect Human Rights..., by Milehimama, Mama Says blog, May 3, 2007
- Amnesty International Adopts Secret Pro-Abortion Policy, "Not to be made public" by Gudrun Schultz, LifeSite, May 3, 2007
- Amnesty International's Dirty Little Secret, by Ryan T. Anderson, First Things On the Square blog, May 2, 2007
- Help Darfur through . . . Abortions?, by Bill Samuel, Bill Samuel's Web Journal, April 30, 2007
Amnesty International Campaign CoordinatorRachel Macnair
811 East 47th St.
Kansas City, MO 64110-1631