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Defending life
from conception to natural death



Amnesty International Part IV: International Law

Posted by Matthew McCusker on 25 October 2012

In 2007 the 'human-rights' organisation Amnesty International adopted a pro-abortion stance, proclaiming on the 14th June that:

"Amnesty International today firmly stood by the rights of women and girls to be free from threat, force or coercion as they exercise their sexual and reproductive rights1."

There was an immediate outcry among pro-life supporters of the group, such as the Rt Rev Michael Evans, Bishop of East Anglia, who resigned his membership after thirty-one years of active involvement in the organisation.

Amnesty International is clearly anxious to try and regain lost support. SPUC has been forwarded a letter sent to one our supporters which expresses Amnesty's desire to "allow us to open up communication channels with you once again" and seeks to allay their concerns about their abortion policy. This letter, under the name of Imran Uppal of the Supporter Care Team of Amnesty International UK, seems to be a standard response which is sent to former supporters who have expressed opposition to their policy.

In this series I will examine both this letter and the general consistency of their policy.

Part IV: Amnesty International, Abortion and International Law

"Amnesty International bases its policies on international law, which is silent on the point of when life begins."

This is one of the central arguments used by Amnesty International in their attempt to portray their ideological commitment to abortion as a reasoned and moderate approach to a difficult moral question.

In reality, Amnesty International’s position here is not correct. The United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child (1959), which since 1990 has been a binding treaty in international law, clearly states:

"The child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth."

This is a clear statement that, according to international law, life begins before birth.

This interpretation of international law is confirmed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) which forbids the carrying out of the death penalty on pregnant women i.e the Covenant recognises that the unborn child is an innocent human being who cannot legitimately be put to death for the crime of the mother.

In promoting the decriminalisation of abortion Amnesty International are acting contrary to the very principles of international human rights legislation that they profess to uphold.


The letter that we have been considering is sent by Amnesty International to those potential donors who have expressed opposition to their current position on abortion. They seek to hide their ideological commitment to abortion behind a facade of moderation and a misuse of scientific and legal arguments.

In fact Amnesty International’s position as stated in the letter

  • Is contrary to all accepted scientific evidence
  • Is contrary to the foundational principles of international law
  • Is inconsistent with the real nature of Amnesty’s advocacy of abortion on the ground

This letter contains nothing that should convince anyone who upholds the value and dignity of human life to resume support of a ‘human rights’ organisation that cannot even uphold the most basic of those rights, namely, the right to life itself.

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