In a move that has upset many Christians, the human rights group Amnesty International has abandoned its position of neutrality on abortion and will now actively campaign for pro-choice measures.
The organization’s executive committee decided in April to support access to abortion – "within reasonable gestational limits” – for women in cases of rape, incest or violence, or where the pregnancy jeopardizes a mother’s life or health. Delegates gave the decision overwhelming support at its mid-August conference in Mexico.
Amnesty International has been working in countries where rape has been used as a weapon of war, and in nations where women seeking abortions can be severely punished, BBC News reports.
Kate Gilmore, AI’s executive deputy secretary-general, said in a statement:
"Amnesty International’s position is not for abortion as a right but for women’s human rights to be free of fear, threat and coercion as they manage all consequences of rape and other grave human rights violations.”
Christian organizations have threatened to withdraw support from the group in the wake of its decision on abortion.
Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, told the National Catholic Reporter that AI had "betrayed its mission.”
He wrote: "To selectively justify abortion, even in the cases of rape, is to define the innocent child within the woman as an enemy, a ‘thing’ that must be destroyed.”
In England, Catholic Bishop Michael Evans, a 31-year member of AI, said he was resigning from the organization.
And in the U.S., Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, said: "Amnesty International was founded to protect human rights, yet it now treads upon the most fundamental human right, the right to life. To fail to protect the right to life renders suspect one’s advocacy of any other human right.”
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