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These measures include post abortion healing; male responsibility; comprehensive sexual/reproductive health education; all voluntary pregnancy prevention methods, plus rape and incest prevention & treatment; and life-affirming ways to get through crisis pregnancy and beyond.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Amnesty International & Abortion (Part Two)

Just like Cardinal Martino...Amnesty International is not above and beyond criticism for its new policy on abortion, a definite move away from its previous neutrality.

It would have been wiser to stay neutral and redoubled its efforts to reduce abortion through abolishing violence against women & other root causes--measure that represent considerable areas of common ground between many, many prolife and prochoice individuals.

I say this in a spirit of constructive criticism towards an organization I dearly love--I've been an action alerts responder, a letter writer for Amnesty campaigns, for over twenty years now (and a member when I could afford the dues.) In my little ways I've tried to back up the organization in its remarkably broad fight for human rights, on issues ranging from the death penalty to rape as a weapon of war to hate crimes against LGBT persons to the violation of environmental activists' civil liberties.

I say this as someone who worked alongside with other consistent life ethic-advocating, progressive & feminist prolife members, joined at some points by prochoice members who foresaw the policy change's potentially alienating consequences, to challenge the undemocratic, nontransparent process by which the decision was proposed & moved through the organization. Who personally witnessed how those efforts were systematically fended off.

Because the higher-ups wouldn't listen, I post here something I wrote to Kate Gilmore, Executive Deputy Secretary General of Amnesty International.


Casting the issue in this overly simplistic woman-versus-fetus manner, in my opinion and the opinions of many human rights activists *undermines* Amnesty's credibility as a voice for women's human rights and human rights in general.

Why *must* resistance to the received definition of abortion (to whatever extent) as a women's human right *necessarily* entail indifference and silence towards such evils as the rape of women whether in wartime or within their own families, the punishment and execution of women for induced or even suspected induced abortions, the abandonment of women to horrible suffering and death from abortion complications?

I personally have protested and worked a long time against ALL these evils, for example rape and the stigmatization of women who have suffered rape, at every level of society from my own family to the global, and will continue to do so as long as I have breath and muscle power.

After all it would be monstrously hypocritical and counterproductive to defend unborn children's lives without simultaneously defending the lives of women and all other already-born human beings.

And I know from long experience, there are ways to challenge such atrocities against women without necessarily having to define abortion as a women's human right. And I know from long experience that I am not alone in this, that I'm in good company.

The reason I sent the IEC members [International Executive Committee, the Amnesty officials ultimately responsible for the policy change--Marysia] an electronic copy of the book ProLife Feminism Yesterday and Today, Second Expanded Edition was to document the number, and diversity of genuine progressives/feminists who have powerfully articulated and acted upon these ways.

I and many others severely question the official line that Amnesty decided this policy change in a transparent, democratic way. That's not what I, and many other members with a range of opinions on abortion, have witnessed with our own eyes and ears.

The resulting decision--to adopt a policy that challenges violence against women by defining abortion as a human right instead of remaining neutral on the contentious matter of whether or not it is one---instead of sticking to while greatly expanding other, common-ground ways to challenge violence against women, ways that, incidentally, serve to *reduce* pressures upon women to have abortions, legal or illegal--only confirms our skepticism.

Some of us are leaving the organization and working for human rights through other venues, some of us are resorting to the resistance strategy called "defection in place." Either way, Amnesty has not heard the last of our protests.


Anonymous said...

I've never heard the term "defection in place" before. Would you mind elaborating?


Marysia said...

Can't remember where I first heard this expression. But it means that instead of leaving an institution or organization that you dissent from, you stay and remain a part of it even as you dissent.