Why is Amnesty International Defending the Executioners?

The organization has charged headlong into the culture wars and now uncritically champions the most destructive elements of the unending Sexual Revolution, especially abortion and gender ideology

With the recent legalization of “same-sex marriage” in Ireland earlier this year, the sexual revolutionaries feel they have the momentum to decriminalize abortion on the Emerald Isle. Abortion is prohibited under the Constitution’s eighth amendment, which acknowledges “the right to life of the unborn, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother.” The forces of secularization – or should I say “sexularization”? – frame the issue in their typical way as a matter of women’s reproductive rights. To my surprise, I recently learned that this effort is being spearheaded by the respected human rights organization Amnesty International. Their effort to repeal the amendment and related laws on abortion is distinctly anti-Catholic in nature, and is part of a broader movement to eradicate the faith in one of the few nations that still enshrines Christian principles in law.

I used to be a member of Amnesty International (AI), first in the USA and then in Czech Republic. However, AI’s agitation for “gay marriage” and abortion in recent years caused me to cancel my membership. Not long ago, when AI was still primarily an advocate for prisoners of conscience and the rights enumerated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, I wrote letters every month based on AI’s templates to places like Burma and Zimbabwe and Egypt.

But now the organization has charged headlong into the culture wars and uncritically champions the most destructive elements of the unending Sexual Revolution, especially abortion and gender ideology – and not just in Ireland but globally. It is one thing to advocate for prisoners of conscience and to protect minorities of all kinds from violence. It is quite another to push death on the most vulnerable: the unborn. I do not understand what philosophy of human rights can be against torture and violence while promoting abortion around the world under the guise of “reproductive rights.” Abortion is the anti-human right.

In this debate over abortion in Ireland, logic compels us to ask a basic question: what about the human rights of the unborn? Amnesty’s campaign has the chutzpah to claim that current Irish law denies women and girls “freedom from torture”: “Ireland is denying its women and girls their right to life, health, privacy, non-discrimination, information, free speech and freedom from torture through its restrictive and punitive laws.”

But what about the babies in utero who are ripped limb from limb during the abortion procedure? Tiny bodies shredded and vacuumed from their mothers’ wombs. Skulls crushed, needles injecting poison. Are unborn babies not human in AI’s eyes? Do they not have the right to life and the right not to be tortured? Amnesty’s approach to abortion is plainly hypocritical.

It is hard to believe the organization’s smart, conscientious, and concerned leaders and staff don’t see the contradiction. Under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, states are bound to act in the best interests of children. Children have rights. Above all the right to life. The crucial question for Amnesty International is: at what age do human rights begin to apply?

AI’s UK office answered me in a recent email exchange: “Amnesty International does not take a position on when life begins but does uphold the international human rights framework and the emerging international legal consensus that human rights are applied from the point of birth.” Thus, one of the world’s premier non-governmental human rights organizations believes the most defenseless human beings – those in the womb – have no rights.

And yet, “Amnesty recognises that some state regulation of access to abortion is justifiable (and indeed mandatory),” including the setting of “reasonable gestational limits,” I was told in another email. Why would the state set limits on abortion if the “thing” growing inside the mother is not human, or is somehow less than human, or otherwise lacks rights? Does Amnesty believe a person is more human and therefore deserving of rights at 30 weeks in the womb than at 15 weeks? In this view, legal standing grows along with the child, crossing arbitrary thresholds and culminating in the fullness of rights at the moment of birth.

Strangely, AI UK’s email implied that the organization is agnostic about abortion and somnambulant in its pursuit of human rights. It asserted that Amnesty “does not seek to promote abortion as a human right nor does it take a position on whether or not abortion is right or wrong. However, it is important to note that access to abortion under certain circumstances is already recognised internationally as a human right.” So AI doesn’t really want to, but is compelled to push abortion in Ireland since some external entity has claimed it is a right?

The email continues: “Amnesty International’s position on access to abortion, reflects what government obligations under international human rights standards.” Does AI lack the independence, critical faculties and reflexivity to set its own priorities according to clearly articulated principles? Instead, the group seems to believe it has no choice but to blindly promote whatever someone else designates as a right.

But such hints at half-heartedness are belied by the militant ad campaign and rhetoric being propagated in Ireland. In Amnesty’s blatantly anti-Catholic video “Chains,” Liam Neeson’s eerie voice intones over stark Catholic images, “A ghost haunts Ireland, a cruel ghost of the last century, still bound to the land. It blindly brings suffering, even death, to the women whose lives it touches…” AI elaborates: “Ireland doesn’t have to be bound to the past. It needs to repeal the Eighth Amendment of its constitution, and the other laws that chain women to the past and deny them their rights.” Elsewhere their literature claims: “She is not a criminal. She has a human right to an abortion.”

La révolution dévore ses enfants.” And so the Revolution devours its young. A group that used to be a force for good now promotes evil; a humanitarian organization advocates baby killing. Amnesty International should get back to basics and protect real human rights. Abortion – the killing of humans in the womb – is not a human right.

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About Benjamin J. Vail 7 Articles
Dr. Benjamin J. Vail, OFS is an American Secular Franciscan living with his family in Brno, Czech Republic. He has studied sociology and environmental studies at the University of Oslo (Norway), the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Masaryk University (Czech Republic).