The Magazine

Abortion International

What AI now stands for.

Jul 16, 2007, Vol. 12, No. 41 • By RYAN T. ANDERSON
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Amnesty International also took potshots at Catholics like Martino. Amnesty International--unlike the Catholic Church--exists to "protect citizens including the believer but [it does] not impose beliefs." Its work--unlike religious believers'--is all about "upholding human rights, not specific theologies." Its argument--unlike the pro-life one--"invokes the law and the state, not God." The statement ended with a pompous lecture that warned the Catholic Church "not to turn away from the suffering that women face because of sexual violence and urged the Catholic leadership to advocate tolerance and to respect freedom of expression for all human rights defenders, including Amnesty International, just as Amnesty International will continue to defend the freedom of religion."

Of course, Amnesty International's blustering response is ridiculous. The Church's teaching on abortion is not peculiarly Catholic. Pro-life reasoning requires no invocation of God, no specific theology, and no imposition of beliefs. Nor does articulating a coherent rational argument fail to show tolerance or respect for competing positions--even intellectually incoherent positions like Amnesty International's. And one has to wonder if Amnesty International can really think petitions for abortion rights amount to authentic care for women, while nuns like the Sisters of Life who take in and house pregnant women are merely turning a blind eye.

The pro-life community in the United States has always had genuine admiration for Amnesty International, particularly as the organization kept itself neutral in the abortion debates. But if it now insists on holding what pro-lifers see as a fundamentally flawed view of human rights, pro-lifers' trust in its other work will decline--indeed, it already has. Amnesty International is deluding itself if it thinks that this new support for an unlimited abortion license does not undermine the foundations of human rights and the broad coalition of support the organization once enjoyed.

Even Darth Vader and Hobgoblin could see that.

Ryan T. Anderson, a junior fellow at FIRST THINGS, is the assistant director of the program in bioethics and human dignity at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, N.J.