(Page 2 of 2)
ORGANIZATION OFFICIALS RECOGNIZED that the policy would be controversial, so they even sought to keep the membership quiet. Anderson pointed to the letter from Karen Schneider, chair of the Sexual and Reproductive Rights Working Group, which explained that “It is very important to be aware of the following: This policy will not be made public at this time. As the [International Executive Committee] has written to all sections, ‘There is to be no proactive external publication of the policy position or of the fact of its adoption issued. This means no section or structure is to issue a press release or public statement or external communication of any kind on the policy decision.”
Materials were prepared in case the news slipped out, and critical articles or letters appeared. Volunteers were told to send questioners to AI communications personnel. The organization prevented critics from passing out leaflets at its national conference. “There’s simply no reason for us to publicize policy issues,” Widney Brown, of Amnesty’s International Secretariat, later told Reuters.
Even after AI’s policy switch became public, its staff attempted to obfuscate the issue. In June Kate Gilmore, Executive Deputy Secretary General, stated that “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.” But, in fact, the organization called for ending penalties in all circumstances.
Some pro-life Amnesty supporters hoped that the 400-member International Council would overturn the abortion policy when the group met in Mexico City in mid-August. But it was not to be. AI officially announced that the Council “affirmed the organization’s policy” on abortion.
OBVIOUSLY, THE ISSUE OF ABORTION is difficult and controversial. But a group that purports to be concerned with human rights cannot evade the issue of the unborn by claiming to take no position on when life begins. By effectively supporting the right to abortion up to the moment of birth, AI has decided that the unborn — the most vulnerable and the most helpless in our society — do not count morally in any way at any point.
Moreover, the organization makes much of its efforts “to stop violence against women.” Indeed, without apparent irony, in justifying its position to religious believers AI “calls on its members and supporters to work with the organization to end violence against women, which often lies at the root of many unwanted pregnancies.” Yet is there a greater act of violence than abortion itself? And when the baby is female, is not the violence directed against women?
By becoming an advocate of abortion, AI has done more than abandon the unborn who so need an outside advocate. Amnesty also has damaged its own credibility, undercutting its larger mission to aid prisoners of conscience and other victims of state violence and oppression around the globe. As Ryan Anderson notes, “The organization’s leadership deludes itself if it thinks its new support for an unlimited abortion license doesn’t undermine the solidarity once enjoyed among all those working to end human suffering.”
AI has sacrificed its reputation as a nonpartisan human rights group. It also has made it difficult for some of its most obvious allies — religious activists committed to the life and dignity of all human beings — to back AI’s work.
Ironically, Amnesty was created by a Catholic layman, Peter Benenson. But the organization now has made it particularly difficult for Catholics to support AI’s work. The Vatican has urged Catholics to stop providing financial support to Amnesty, and several leading Catholics have resigned as members from the organization. Losses are likely to extend to evangelicals and perhaps beyond.
I’m sorry, Mr. Cox, but I can’t send Amnesty International money any longer. I admire your organization and its work. But I believe there is no more fundamental human right than the right to life. And no one more needs protection from violence than the unborn. It’s unfortunate that an otherwise worthy group like AI is unwilling to defend human life in all of its forms.
Doug Bandow is vice president for policy at Citizen Outreach. A former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is the author of Foreign Follies: America’s New Global Empire (Xulon Press).
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?