Ed McK 0

Amnesty International should take no position regarding the decriminalization or legalization of abortion.

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BACKGROUND In the past 18 months several national sections of Amnesty International (AI) have passed resolutions during their annual general meetings that will cause Amnesty International to abandon it\'s \'no position\' stance on abortion policy. However, AI\'s current \'no position\' policy on abortion rights enables it to work effectively and collaboratively with an array of religious organizations who may be unwilling to work with AI if it begins to promote abortion rights. Further, AI\'s current policy respects the balance of conflicting rights and the perspectives of it\'s membership, specifically the notion that both pro-choice and pro-life members can make human rights based arguments supporting their perspective. AI should continue to honor and respect the perspective of all of its members by taking no stand on this issue as the members on both sides of the abortion issue derive their their positions from arguably equally valid rights-based perspectives AI has and will continue to address human rights issues that surround the abortion issue such as access to adequate medical services, the prohibition of legal disclosure requirements that force medical practitioners to turn in those who have sought health care in the aftermath of an abortion, the prohibition of excessive punishment for violations of abortion related law -- especially the death penalty, etc. Abortion related resolutions that passed in the United States (and probably around the world) did so on the basis of an extremely small percentage of actual membership (in the United States voting members may have amounted to less than 1/10 of 1% of the membership.) Moreover, the resolution process is flawed in that any well organized but relatively small group may profoundly and unduly affect the direction of a national section. The abortion issues is so divisive that it may split the organization, pitting well-intentioned and reasonable human rights activist against one another in a struggle for the direction of Amnesty International. Furthermore, the current national socio-political culture is increasing polarized; AI taking a position on abortion will contribute to that polarization in a way that may damage AI\'s ability to remain human rights centered and above the political fray. Sociologists have suggested that there is a current trend for civic organizations to move toward more extreme positions in order to attract membership and money; the move toward the fringe causes centrist members to leave the organization thereby causing a further shift to the fringe; AI should resist such sociological trends and remain rights-focus and therefore of interest to human rights defenders on both the left and right. PETITION ACTION Though the signers of this petition may be personally pro-choice or pro-life, they feel that AI and AIUSA should not take or appear to take a stand favoring or disfavoring the decriminalization or legalization of abortion. The undersigned believe that Amnesty International\'s work of advancing global human rights is best accomplished by retaining a neutral policy with respect abortion rights. The undersigned call upon Amnesty International & Amnesty International USA to retain their long held neutral policy with respect to abortion rights. The undersigned urge the board of Amnesty International USA to take the necessary steps to reverse the elements of Decision 7 of the 2006 AGM that require AIUSA to favor/support decriminalization of abortion as a matter of policy for Amnesty International.


Amnesty International members against the proposed change in AI policy on abortion and reproductive rights.
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