Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 21, 2007
AI decides in favour of abortion
By Catholic News Service
The International Executive Committee of Amnesty International has declared that a woman should have full, legal access to abortion in cases of rape or incest or if her life or health is at grave risk.
The new policy calls for eliminating criminal penalties for anyone who provides an abortion or obtains one.
In a statement last July, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said it would be "most regrettable if Amnesty International were to adopt a position promoting access to abortion.
"Such a change in policy would be considered by the Catholic bishops of Canada to be a step backwards for an organization that has done such outstanding work in defending human life and the rights of the most vulnerable.
"This change in policy would make it difficult for Catholics to continue supporting the work of Amnesty International," the bishops said.
In a background paper on its position, Amnesty described its new policy of support for access to abortion in some circumstances as "part of its campaign to Stop Violence Against Women."
The International Executive Committee adopted the policy in April, but information did not begin to circulate widely until early May.
A cover letter from Karen Schneider, chairwoman of Amnesty's Sexual and Reproductive Rights Working Group, dated April 20, said: "No section or structure (of the Amnesty network) is to issue a press release or public statement or external communication of any kind on the policy decision."
Amnesty leaders were asked to release the background paper only in response to inquiries.
Another document in the packet is an eight-page "frequently asked questions" paper, intended for internal use only.
The "frequently asked questions" paper points out that Amnesty International "has long opposed forced abortion, sterilization and contraception in all circumstances" and "opposes sex-selective abortion."
It adds, however, that the new policy "allows AI to call governments to account for their laws and policies on abortion and to make appropriate policy recommendations toward the realization of women's human rights."
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