Amnesty International Urged to Reject Abortion Plan

U.S. Prelate Says Proposal Could Split Human Rights Advocates

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WASHINGTON, D.C., SEPT. 18, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The president of the U.S. bishops' conference warned Amnesty International that its proposal to promote abortion will threaten unborn children and jeopardize the organization's record as a champion for human rights.



Bishop William Skylstad, president of the U.S. conference, wrote a letter to Irene Khan, the secretary-general of Amnesty International, in which he urged the group not to abandon its neutral stance on abortion.

"To abandon this long-held position would be a tragic mistake, dividing human rights advocates and diverting Amnesty International from its central and urgent mission of defending human rights as outlined in the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights," Bishop Skylstad wrote in a letter posted Friday on the bishops' Web site.

Noting that U.S. episcopal conference 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," added the 72-year-old prelate.

Abortion is not considered a human right in international law, Bishop Skylstad pointed out, and both the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child and the recently adopted U.N. Declaration on Human Cloning uphold the principle of the dignity of the unborn child.

"The right to life itself is fundamental -- it is 'the right to have rights,' and its integrity depends on being acknowledged in absolutely every member of the human family regardless of race, age or condition," the prelate observed. "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."