Pro-lifers urge Amnesty to keep neutral position on abortion

.- Three pro-life leaders are expected to hold a press conference today, asking Amnesty International to keep its neutral position on abortion, reported

The human rights watchdog group, which was founded by a lay Catholic, has been in an intense debate about whether it should remain neutral on abortion or begin lobbying for access to abortion as a human right.

Rep. Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican who is the leader of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, will be calling on Amnesty International (AI) to resist pressure from abortion advocates to adopt a pro-abortion position.

He will be joined by Deirdre McQuade, the pro-life spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Kristen Day, the director of Democrats for Life of America.

Smith will discuss a "strongly worded" letter he and 73 members of Congress have sent to Larry Cox, AI's executive director.

The letter urges the organization to maintain a neutral position or adopt a pro-life view that abortion destroys the human rights of women and children. It argues that a decision to support or condone abortion would "significantly undermine Amnesty's reputation and effectiveness."

"The killing of an unborn child by abortion can never be construed to be a human right," Smith said in a statement provided to "Therefore, taking a position that supports violence against children is antithetical to everything Amnesty International stands for."

A final decision on whether AI will retain its neutral position could be made at the organization’s next international meeting in Mexico in August 2007.

Catholic leaders in various countries have spoken up against AI supporting abortion. However, AI affiliates in Canada, England and New Zealand have voted in favor of supporting abortion. The British and New Zealand groups want the international organization to back all abortions while the Canadian affiliate said abortion should only be supported in limited cases such as rape or incest.

To urge AI not to support abortion as an international right, go to .

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