Abortion as a Human Right?

Since its creation in 1961, Amnesty International (AI) has enjoyed significant support within the faith community (especially from the Catholic Church) for it staunch support of human rights and dignity throughout the world. The organization has maintained this support through its willingness to shine the light on injustice throughout the world without regard to national borders or the ideological leanings of any particular country.

In April of this year the executive committee of AI chose to step into the fray and embrace abortion as a “human right”(under limited circumstances, but a “right” just the same). This was the first time in AI’s 46 year history that they have not been neutral on the issue of abortion. The decision was ratified at the organization’s annual meeting in August and basically advocates “decriminalization of abortion . . . and access to abortion, within reasonable gestational limits” in cases of rape and incest or where the woman’s health, life, or human rights are in danger.
This decision represents a substantial sea change in the previously neutral position taken by (arguably) the world’s premier “human rights” advocacy group. The decision threatens to jeopardize the standing of AI, especially within the faith community generally and within the Evangelical and Catholic communities specifically. The Catholic Church, through a few Cardinals and even the Pope himself, have already publicly denounced AI’s decision on abortion and have urged the faithful to withdraw their support.
AI, for its part, has responded by arguing that they are not advocating abortion as a human right per se but instead standing up for the “rights of women and girls to be free from threat, force or coercion as they exercise their sexual and reproductive rights.” In order to effect the promotion of freedom in the area of sexual and reproductive rights, AI has chosen to advocate for “decriminalization” of abortion. While AI argues that they are concerned about the plight of women who are raped and victims of incest, are they not still advocating abortion as a human right despite their protestations to the contrary?
Apparently the change in AI’s position was prompted by the systematic rape of Darfurian women by the terrible Janjaweed militants who have been perpetuating the unbearable genocide in the Sudan years. As could be expected, a number of these rapes result in pregnancy and (to pile cruelty upon cruelty)the pregnant rape victims are ostracized by their communities. This is a heart-breaking state of affairs. But is the answer to elevate abortion to the level of a human right and make the accessibility of the same necessary for the promotion of human dignity? Does this not just compound the problem by violating the rights of the unborn child? Does Amnesty International not actually undercut its prime mission by taking this stance? By taking this stance do they not undermine their moral authority in advancing the human rights of all children (both born or unborn)?

Let’s hear your thoughts.

Christianity Today (one of my favorite periodicals) has a nice snipet about AI’s decision along with a compilation of interesting links you can check out here.

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