abortion-internationalDuring its July 6-8 Global Assembly in Warsaw, Amnesty International delegates voted in favour of advocating for abortion-on-demand. Since 2007, the international human rights group has supported abortion in limited cases such as calling for decriminalization of abortion in cases of rape or when the mother’s life or health were at stake. Previous to that, its abortion activism was limited to criticism of the U.S. Mexico City Policy prohibiting American taxpayer funds from being used to promote or carry out abortions in the developing world.

In July, delegates voted to fully back so-called abortion rights with a campaign “to guarantee access to safe and legal abortion in a broad way.” In a press release, Amnesty International stated it “adopted new proposals to tackle the devastating human rights consequences of misguided attempts by countries to criminalise and restrict abortion.” It did not state how restrictions or bans on abortion caused “devastating human rights consequences.”

Amnesty International also passed its “first-ever position on how States should address the challenges posed by drugs from a human rights perspective,” by supporting a “shift away from the current ‘scorched-earth’ approach of heavy-handed criminalisation, to an approach where protection of people’s health and rights are at the centre.”

Tawanda Mutasah, Amnesty International’s senior director for law and policy, stated, “We want to make sure we are well placed to fight for the human rights of millions of people whose lives are impacted by how governments criminalise or restrict access to abortion and by the prohibition of drugs. Both issues require a much more compassionate approach from governments to protect the rights of the people who are most at risk.”

The group released a primer on “reproductive rights” titled, “Body Politics: Criminalization of Sexuality and Reproduction.” Amnesty International said this 200-page document “aims to motivate and equip the organization’s global movement to challenge unjust criminalization of sexuality and reproduction in local, national, regional and international contexts.”

“Body Politics” describes laws against abortion as “gender-based discrimination and violence” against women because it is a violation of the bodily autonomy of women. It also said laws that protect preborn children unjustly stigmatize women not only through shaming them for killing the child in the womb, but for exercising control of their bodies; such laws then not only criminalize abortion, “Body Politics” argues, but also endangers unlimited expressions of sexual orientation and gender identification.

On Amnesty’s “facts about abortion (web) page” it asserts that “access to safe abortion services is a human right. Under international human rights law, everyone has a right to life, a right to health, and a right to be free from violence, discrimination, and torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.” The United Kingdom’s Society for Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) noted that “the human rights of the unborn are nowhere mentioned.”

The move to officially adopt a pro-abortion position hardly came as a surprise. SPUC said in a statement that after Amnesty abandoned its official neutral position on abortion in 2007, “the organisation quickly became one of the biggest promoters of abortion in the world,” noting specifically Amnesty International’s long-standing campaign to overturn Ireland’s pro-life Eighth Amendment. Campaign Life Coalition’s project manager for international issues, Matthew Wojciechowski, told The Interimthat CLC has long protested Amnesty International’s abortion advocacy, which he said had been ramped up long before the official change in policy. Wojciechowski pointed to its vocal support for the pro-abortion side in the Ireland referendum as well as its campaign to overturn pro-life laws in Argentina and El Salvador.

Campaign Life’s national president Jim Hughes wrote in the August CLC National News, “Even though their policy has become more radicalized, it is important to point out that, for many years, Amnesty has already been extremely busy advocating for abortion, in countries where it was illegal.” Wojciechowski, who has attended numerous conferences and meetings at the United Nations, said it is common to witness Amnesty International representatives working closely with pro-abortion non-government organizations and various abortion-promoting UN agencies.

Hughes told The Interim that “this isn’t your parents’ Amnesty International.” Noting that when his now adult children went to school, it was common for Amnesty International to coordinate letter-writing campaigns for students to send notes of support to political prisoners around the world and encourage dictatorships to release prisoners of conscience. Now, Hughes said, “they are practicing ideological colonialism” by promoting abortion in countries where it is illegal and often opposed.

In 2014, the Washington-based Pew Research Center, published its “Pew Global Attitudes Project,” examining survey data from around the world on a host of moral issues including gambling, homosexuality, and contraception. It found that in much of the developing world, where abortion is often restricted or outlawed, the vast majority of respondents thought abortion was wrong. In African countries such as Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, and Nigeria, at least four out of five people consider abortion “morally unacceptable,” while just two to three per cent consider abortion morally acceptable. The report’s authors noted, “Half or more in 26 of 40 nations surveyed personally believe having an abortion is morally unacceptable.” Hughes said Amnesty International is pushing a “radical agenda promoted by western feminists that is starkly at odds with local values and morals.”