Health News

Amnesty backs right to abortion despite church

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Human rights group Amnesty International on Friday backed women’s right to an abortion if their lives are in danger or if they have been raped in a move likely to anger the Catholic Church.

The church, which considers abortion to be murder and never justified, has urged Catholic organizations to withdraw their support for Amnesty over the policy. The Vatican says Amnesty has “betrayed its mission.”

At the end of its annual meeting in Mexico City, Amnesty said it would work to “support the decriminalization of abortion, to ensure women have access to heath care when complications arise from abortion and to defend women’s access to abortion ... when their health or human rights are in danger.”

Amnesty Secretary General Irene Khan told Reuters in July that the new policy, inspired by rapes in war zones such as Darfur, urged governments to provide safe abortions when women conceive after rape or incest or when a pregnant woman’s life is threatened.

Bishop William Skylstad, head of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in July the decision “undermines Amnesty’s long-standing moral credibility” and called on the London-based rights group, founded by a Catholic layman, to reverse its policy.