US bishops join call urging Amnesty International to stay out of abortion debate

.- The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has warned Amnesty International that a proposal to abandon its neutral stance on abortion for a policy of advocating for abortion as a “human right” will jeopardize the organization’s excellent record as a champion for human rights.

“To abandon this long-held [neutral] position would be a tragic mistake,” wrote Bishop William Skylstad in a letter to Irene Khan, the secretary general of Amnesty International.

Amnesty International’s work would be “harmed by this unprecedented and unnecessary involvement in the abortion debate,” the bishop warned. The USCCB joins the British and Canadian bishops who, in recent months, have cautioned Amnesty International on the same point.

Noting that the USCCB has worked with Amnesty International on a range of issues - most recently on a campaign to end the death penalty in the United States - Bishop Skylstad urged the organization not to “dilute or divert its mission by adopting a position that many see as fundamentally incompatible with a full commitment to human rights and that will deeply divide those working to defend human rights.”

“If Amnesty International were to advocate for abortion as a human right, it would risk diminishing its own well-deserved moral credibility,” Bishop Skylstad said. “It certainly would most likely divide its own members, many of whom are Catholic, and others who defend the rights of unborn children.”

The bishop pointed out that abortion is not considered a human right in international law, and both the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the recently adopted United Nations Declaration on Human Cloning uphold the principal of the dignity of the unborn child.

“The right to life itself is fundamental,” Bishop Skylstad said. “This is no peculiarity of Catholic teaching, but an insight of the ‘natural law’ tradition of human rights that has produced so many advances in upholding human dignity.” 

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