by Deirdre A. McQuade
August 24, 2007
Until recently, Amnesty International (AI) was officially neutral with regard to abortion, but now they have embraced abortion as a human right in false solidarity with women around the world. In doing so, they propose violence to solve violence and discriminate against a whole class of voiceless human beings: the unborn. It's a far cry from Catholic founder Peter Benenson's principles in the 1960's and the spirit of their "Protect the Human" campaign in England only two years ago.
Their new policy calls for legalizing abortion in countries that currently protect women and their children from abortion. Spun as a reasonable measure to help survivors of rape during wartime, the resolution they passed is actually much broader than that. Their agenda includes promoting abortion access for women's "health," which AI fails to define. Such ambiguity hardly confines the practice to rare circumstances or the early stages of pregnancy. In fact, AI-USA publicly opposes the modest partial-birth abortion ban recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Amnesty's campaign offers false hope to women. Abortion provides no relief from the realities they face. It does nothing to alleviate injustice. It cannot go back in time and undo the violence of rape. Nothing can. The reality is that abortion harms women even as it ends the life of their unborn children.
A strong pro-woman stance would refuse to choose between mothers and their vulnerable children. It would advance the social standing of women and contend with the cruelty of communities that treat rape victims as outcasts. It would embrace the truth that women deserve better than abortion.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) had urged Amnesty for almost a year not to change their policy. USCCB president, Bishop William S. Skylstad, now invites us to continue the "essential work" of justice, but "in authentic ways, working most closely with organizations who do not oppose the fundamental right to life from conception to natural death."
If you are a member of AI, or have a friend who is, prayerfully consider what the Lord would have you do. How is He calling you to be authentically pro-justice and pro-life? There are several reputable groups working on the issues that Amnesty addresses, such as freeing prisoners of conscience, protecting women from sexual assault, and ending the use of the death penalty. If God has called you to support these contemporary corporal works of mercy, then consider giving to or volunteering with an alternate group.
Whatever you decide, try to maintain relationships with those who might oppose you. Leave the door open for them. Some, like the rich young man, may walk away sad when met with a challenge. But others, like the Samaritan woman at the well, could catch a new vision, leave behind their old abortion advocacy ways, and run to tell others about the consistently pro-life position. Who knows? God is "bigger" than Amnesty International and his plan for justice will not be thwarted. As it says in Isaiah, "my word...will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."
For the full text of Bishop Skylstad's statement, visit:
Deirdre A. McQuade is director of planning and information at the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.