Consistent Life has more on Amnesty International’s recent decision to add advocacy for abortion rights to its mission.
Although AI keeps claiming that the decision was made in consultation with its membership, this move is in fact being made without the knowledge or input of most members and against the wishes of many who have made their opinions known. As recently as May 2006, callers to AIUSA’s office were being told that AI took no position on abortion and that there was no movement to change that — yet AI claims that it has been consulting the membership for two years. The membership of the UK branch voted against adopting the new policy, but the branch adopted it anyway; similarly, AIUSA conducted a little-publicized online survey about the new policy in the members-only section of its website, but has never announced the results. I’d like to think that even supporters of this policy change would be disturbed by the high-handed and sneaky way in which it was imposed.
AI is being disingenuous in another way. The organization claims that it takes no position on when life begins or whether the unborn have human rights. However, nowhere in all of the explanatory material about the new policy is there any indication that anyone other than the mother might have anything at stake in abortion. Effectively, then, AI’s position is either that unborn human beings have no human rights, or that their rights don’t matter.
For an organization which so prizes freedom of conscience, AI is showing remarkable contempt for the consciences of many of its members. Its FAQ answer to the question “My neighbor says that AI is violating human rights by adopting this policy. How can I respond to this?” is patronizing and dismissive: “While some religions believe that life begins at conception and that, therefore, abortion represents a violation of the right to life of a fetus, international law is silent on the point when life begins.”
Of course, that’s no answer at all. It doesn’t even take the question seriously.
Members who believe that Amnesty’s new position condones human rights violations (and contrary to AI’s apparent belief, not all of them are religious) are being patted on the head and told that they can simply work on other issues. Anybody still believe AI’s assertion that they listened to people on all sides of the issue before making their decision?