Amnesty International (AI) has confirmed that it has dropped it’s neutral policy in regards to abortion and now supports access to abortion services as a human right. The pro-”lifers” aren’t happy about it. In fact, the right reverend Michael Evans has resigned because it’s not right when a human rights group quits being “neutral” about the rights of women.
The Vatican has started it’s smear campaign and is threatening a worldwide boycott of AI. Of course, the Vatican isn’t as stupid as some of us like to believe or hope. The official policy is, more or less, to support the decriminalization of abortion and not much else from what I can tell from the press releases. The Vatican has to know due to it’s decades long assault on reproductive freedom for women that AI is going to find out that decriminalization isn’t good enough when you’re dealing with laws such as the ones in America.
The fact of the matter is that while abortion is not illegal in the United States, access to and valid information about it is difficult. Various laws restrict organizations from using public funds in providing abortions as well as information and referrals. Other laws allow various organizations and individuals to refuse to provide abortion services, information and referrals.
There are laws requiring women to obtain permission in order to procure an abortion and at least one that makes it a crime for people to help those women subject to these kind of laws to procure an abortion elsewhere. Certain organizations which exist to cajole, manipulate and harass women into carrying a pregnancy to term have managed to procure public funding in some circumstances.
Women in certain classes such as the poor and the indigenous as well as female employees of the federal government, female military personnel and female inmates all suffer from discriminatory laws that restrict their access to abortion services and information due to their respective physical and financial situations.
There’s also the violence that has been directed at organizations and individuals who provide abortion services and information. According to NARAL (PDF), since 1993 seven clinic workers have been murdered. Since 1991 there have been 17 attempted murders. Since 1977, over 4200 hundred acts of violence have been directed at abortion providers.
As you can imagine this violence has taken it’s toll. Over 80 percent of the counties in the United States have no abortion provider. Over 50 percent of the states and the District of Columbia have seen a decline in the number of medical personnel who provide abortion services between 1996 and 2000 alone.
From the PDF linked above (pg. 11 – emphasis added):
In October 1999, abortion provider Stephen Dixon closed down his District of Columbia ob/gyn practice, indicating that threats and harassment by anti-abortion activists had taken their toll. These activists mailed threats to Dixon?s home, placed his photograph on a ?wanted poster,? and listed him on an anti-choice ?Baby Butchers? web site, along with 32 other D.C. physicians and hundreds more across the country. Dixon said he had already stopped providing abortion care due to the stress caused by anti-abortion terrorism. In a letter to his patients, Dixon wrote, ?Sadly, the ongoing threat to my life and my concern for the safety of my loved ones has exacted a heavy toll on me, making it necessary that I discontinue practicing OB-GYN.?
Currently the violence and threats of violence against abortion providers is highly underplayed. We in America have been trained to consider such things to be just another day in the zoo. But what’s the impact of possibly having a human rights organization issuing alerts about the death threats, the arsons, the assaults, the harassment and other such tactics going to have? I think this is what the pro-forced maternity activists fear the most. The emotional impact of a well-respected organization saying “this is wrong dang-nab-it!”
I think this fear is most articulated when you realize why they’re really mad at AI. The “poor little babies” and “victimized women” is just a cover. Nearly every “OMG!!!” article says something about AI not being “neutral” which is code for “not remaining silent on this issue thus ensuring we terrorists have no real opposition and thus can shape the reaction of those who would actively oppose us if they knew what we were really doing”.