Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 20, 2007 / 08:15 am
Amnesty International affirmed its policy decision on Friday to become a pro-abortion organization and focus some of its efforts on creating universal access to abortion under select circumstances. The radical change has caused Bishop Michael Evans of the Diocese of East Anglia, England to withdraw his 31-year membership from the organization.
The decision marks a significant shift for the 46-year-old organization that was founded by a Catholic layman, Peter Benenson, and has been neutral on the issue of abortion.
The policy was affirmed at Amnesty’s international council meeting in Mexico City, from Aug. 11 to 17. There were 400 delegates from 75 countries in attendance.
Amnesty’s executive committee took the initial policy decision in April to abortion in cases of rape, incest or when the woman’s health is jeopardized, but did not make a public announcement about it. It was not until this past week’s meeting in Mexico City that Amnesty delegates gave it overwhelming support.
A press release, issued by Amnesty on Friday, states: “Amnesty International committed itself to strengthening the organization’s work on the prevention of unwanted pregnancies and other factors contributing to women's recourse to abortion, and affirmed the organization’s policy on selected aspects of abortion (to support the decriminalization of abortion, to ensure women have access to health care when complications arise from abortion, and to defend women's access to abortion, within reasonable gestational limits, when their health or human rights are in danger), emphasizing that women and men must exercise their sexual and reproductive rights free from coercion, discrimination and violence.”
As a result, Catholic Church leaders are calling on Catholics to withdraw their support for Amnesty International.
In an Aug. 18 statement, Bishop Michael Evans of East Anglia said he is withdrawing his 31-year-membership and support for the organization.
“In time, Amnesty may seek to develop this policy further, but even this current limited decision makes it very difficult for Catholics to remain members of Amnesty or to give it any financial support,” the bishop stated.