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Amnesty defends stance

LONDON (CNS): Amnesty International has defended its new policy on abortion after a Vatican official said Catholics might need to withdraw their financial support of the organization.

“Amnesty International’s position is not for abortion as a right but for women’s human rights to be free of fear, threat and coercion as they manage all consequences of rape and other grave human rights violations,” Kate Gilmore, the London-based executive deputy secretary-general of the international human rights organization, said.

“Ours is a movement dedicated to upholding human rights, not specific theologies,” she said in a statement on June 14.

“It means that sometimes the secular framework of human rights that Amnesty International upholds will converge neatly with the standpoints of certain faith-based communities; sometimes it will not.”

In an e-mail interview with the National Catholic Register in New Haven, Connecticut, Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said Amnesty had “betrayed its mission” by abandoning its traditional neutral policy on abortion in favour of a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy.

“To selectively justify abortion, even in the cases of rape, is to define the innocent child within the womb as an enemy, a ‘thing’ that must be destroyed,” Cardinal Martino wrote.

“How can we say that killing a child in some cases is good and in other cases it is evil?

But Amnesty claimed that it did not promote abortion as a universal right and that it remains silent on the rights and wrongs of abortion.

Amnesty was set up in 1961 by the late Peter Benenson, an English convert to Catholicism, to fight for the release of prisoners of conscience, for fair trials for political prisoners and for an end to torture, ill treatment, political killings, disappearances and the death penalty.

(Copyright Catholic News Service/USCCB. All rights reserved.)

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