Amnesty International is considering changing its neutral policy on abortion to one that would declare legal abortion to be an international human right. The organization is currently asking members to submit commentary on proposed changes to their Sexual and Reproductive Rights Policy.
Amnesty International hopes to decide by the end of 2006 whether to adopt a new position that would favor the "decriminalization of abortion," "access to quality services for the management of complications arising from abortion" and "legal, safe and accessible abortion in cases of rape, sexual assault, incest, and risk to a woman's life."
Amnesty International's current policy on abortion states, "Amnesty International takes no position on whether or not women have a right to choose to terminate unwanted pregnancies; there is no generally accepted right to abortion in international human rights law." In 2005, Amnesty International began a world-wide consultative process to poll its members on the organization's current position on abortion.
According to a report by the UK-based Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) consultations to date have been highly one-sided. In spite of asking "that all attendees come along with an open mind and a willingness to hear other people's views," the organizers of the seminar held by Amnesty International (UK) in July made no attempt at providing a balanced discussion. The speakers were exclusively pro-abortion and included a former Chair of International Planned Parenthood Federation and a representative from Marie Stopes International.
In its Sexual and Reproductive Rights Consultation Kit, Amnesty International includes a "Draft Policy statement on Sexual and Reproductive Rights." The policy includes the demand that "Governments must refrain from denying or limiting equal access to sexual and reproductive health services." It adds, "[Governments] must act with due diligence to punish abuses of sexual and reproductive rights by private persons, organizations and other non-state actors."
SPUC's report states that Amnesty International's neutral policy on abortion has not precluded the organization from supporting "sexual and reproductive rights." Examples of this include criticism of the US government's refusal to fund organizations which promote abortion overseas and criticism of the US delegation at the United Nations at a meeting in March, 2005 for attempting to clarify that there is no "right to abortion."
The SPUC report concluded with the following, "By adopting a pro-abortion policy, Amnesty would be turning its back on human rights, the very thing it has campaigned to protect for over forty years."
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