Guest Column

Amnesty International announces decision to advocate for abortion on-demand

abortion, torture, human rights

(C-Fam) Amnesty International will advocate for abortion on-demand as an international human right.

A press release on Amnesty’s website describes its new position as calling on States “not just to decriminalize abortion, but to guarantee access to safe and legal abortion in a broad way that fully respects the rights of all women, girls and people who can get pregnant,” an apparent reference to women who identify as men or as transgender.

The decision was reached by Amnesty International’s General Assembly in Warsaw earlier this month. During the same session the General Assembly also agreed to advocate for legalization of some recreational drug use. The official details of the new positions have yet to be made public.

READ: Amnesty International declares Ireland a ‘rogue nation’ for protecting life

“We want to make sure we are well placed to fight for the human rights of millions of people whose lives are impacted by how governments criminalize or restrict access to abortion and by the prohibition of drugs,” said Tawanda Mutasah, Amnesty International’s Senior Director for Law and Policy according to a press release on Amnesty’s website.

Mutasah described both drug and abortion legalization as a “compassionate approach from governments to protect the rights of the people who are most at risk.”

Amnesty International is a storied human rights organization founded to help free political prisoners behind the Iron curtain during the Cold War. It was founded by Catholic lawyer Peter Benenson in London and enjoyed much Catholic support throughout its history.

After the death of its founder in 2005, like other civil rights organizations in search of a new mission after the fall of the iron curtain, Amnesty International began to support an international human right to abortion in cases of rape, incest, and to save the like of a mother. Until 2007 Amnesty remained officially neutral on abortion even though it opposed the U.S. Mexico City Policy.

Reports indicate it was Kate Gilmore, formerly Executive Deputy Secretary General of Amnesty International, who engineered the change of position in 2007, even though it caused strife within the organization and led many supporters to withdraw their contributions. Gilmore is now the second highest UN human rights official after directing programs for the UN Population Fund.

Gilmore’s work came to fruition in recent international debates on abortion. In the Irish referendum and across Latin America, Amnesty International has been perhaps the most visible international organization in favor of depriving children of protections in the womb. Many Amnesty supporters still aren’t aware of this.

READ: Amnesty International: Abortion restrictions ‘tantamount to torture’

According to information received by the Friday Fax, pro-life donors to Amnesty International are still unaware of the change to their policy in 2007, let alone their decision last week to advocate for abortion on-demand, though at that time, many Catholics left the organization including Cardinal Renato Martino, longtime Nuncio to the United Nations.

Amnesty made the announcement the same day U.S. President Donald Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Kavanaugh may tip the court toward overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision which imposed legal abortion on all fifty U.S. states. It is likely that when the previous abortion decision come before the Court that groups like Amnesty International will argue that abortion is a recognized human right binding on the United States.

Editor’s Note: Author Steffano Gennarini, J.D. writes for C-Fam. This article first appeared in the Friday Fax, an internet report published weekly by C-Fam (Center for Family & Human Rights), a New York and Washington DC-based research institute ( This article appears with permission.

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