“Abortion is not an isolated issue. Denying people the right to make decisions about their own bodies perpetuates gender and economic inequality, and entrenches stigma and discrimination,” he said, adding, “We will continue to demand that governments respect reproductive autonomy, and campaign for safe abortion access for anyone who seeks it, without discrimination, coercion or stigma.”
While Khosla said about 47,000 women die each year as a result of seeking “unsafe” abortions, Koren said better data is needed to evaluate the causes of maternal mortality.
“Much of the existing data ignores the fact that even ‘safe,’ meaning legal, abortions cause deaths—of course, all babies die, but women do as well,” she said. “Abortion is never safe, particularly in the developing world. One of the primary reasons is lack of access to blood if a woman hemorrhages.”
“More accurate numbers, often obscured by the many overlapping challenges women face, would surely show the catastrophic impact of abortions as a whole, both legal and illegal, on women’s lives and well-being,” she said.
“Every life lost is a tragic failure of the international system to guarantee the most fundamental of our human rights,” Koren continued. “No woman should ever have to turn to abortion...The legalization of abortion is not the answer to the problem of ‘unsafe abortion’ as it has in fact been shown to increase maternal mortality.”
Koren said women’s needs would be better met by improving access to food, water, housing, education, decent work, and freedom from violence.
“UN member states pledged to reduce recourse to abortion at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, a commitment which holds to this day. The emphasis should remain on this,” she said.
For Koren, Amnesty's pro-abortion stand is self-defeating.
“Amnesty’s abortion agenda has significantly undermined its authentic human rights credentials,” she said. “While there always will be divergences in the international community, the human rights situation is so dire in so many places around the world that what is needed is a shared re-commitment to the basics of human rights.”
“As its agenda grows increasingly aggressive, it is sure to alienate governments that would otherwise want to work with the international community to better their international human rights trajectory. Most insidiously, Amnesty’s efforts not only de-legitimize its own work, but that of the international human rights project as a whole,” Koren told CNA.
Amnesty International claims 7 million members worldwide. In 2018 it received about $352 million in 2018 donations, mostly from individuals.
(Story continues below)
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Amnesty International’s embrace of pro-abortion advocacy, which it announced in 2007, marked a major shift for the organization.
In 2016, documents reportedly hacked from George Soros' Open Society Foundations appeared to show that it would fund Amnesty International's Ireland affiliate to change the Republic of Ireland's pro-life constitutional protections for the rights of the unborn child. The foundations' strategy document indicated it saw Ireland as a model to change pro-life laws in other strongly Catholic countries.
Irish authorities initially ruled that the Amnesty affiliate needed to return some $160,000 to the Soros foundations because it violated Irish law barring foreign donations to third party groups seeking to influence the outcome of a electoral referendum campaign. However, Amnesty International denied the funds were used for its successful campaign to repeal the pro-life amendment, and the ruling against Amnesty Ireland was overturned in court in 2018.
Correction: This article originally referenced the International Conference on Population and Development as taking place in 1995. The event in question took place in 1994.