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Status Ecclesiae, June 2006

Political Prisoners in the Womb

By John Mallon

The international human rights organization Amnesty International (AI) is considering declaring abortion an international human right; abandoning the neutral position they have long held. If they do so they will be joining the long list of enemies of the Catholic Church, perhaps their greatest ally in the realm of defense of human rights. AI has asked for comments from their membership about whether to take this fateful leap. Reports vary that a decision will be made at the end of 2006 or at their annual meeting in 2007.

It is tragic that a group that has done so much good would even consider this decision and indicates a moral blindness to the fact that the move for “abortion rights” is merely the latest in a chain of cyclical genocides over the past century which all use the same excuses to accomplish their goals: American slavery claimed blacks were only three-fifths human in order to exploit them, the Nazis claimed Jews were subhuman in order to murder them, and the abortion lobby has long claimed the unborn child lacked personhood and was merely a “lump of tissue” in order to dispose of them. 

In each case these crimes were rationalized by demoting the victims to a subhuman status to serve a cause: economic for the slaveholder, “for the sake of the Fatherland” for the Nazi, and for the sake of “women’s’ liberation” convenience for the modern sex-addicted developed world, who now inflicts abortion on the developing world to salve consciences in a patronizing pretense of “helping the poor.”

The question is, to what moral authority does AI appeal in justifying such a decision? A “climate of opinion” that abortion is “necessary” to protect women? If so, who will protect women from the abortionists? How will AI continue to defend their laudable defense of women being forcibly aborted in China when the Chinese government turns around and claims, “We are just exercising her human rights, which you yourselves have proclaimed.” Or, “We are just protecting our human rights as a nation in avoiding overpopulation.” If the intrinsic immorality of abortion is inverted by counting it a human right, what will be AI’s argument in these women’s defense?

The agenda of abortion is arm-in-arm with the forces of tyranny in the world. I can recall the forces of the Marxist-Leninist League screaming red-faced into the faces of pro-lifers in the streets of Boston. It was only fitting that the pro-abortion forces were in common cause with adherents of the ideology that enslaved half the world for seventy years. 

Moreover, those clamoring to declare abortion a “human right” are those who profit by it: Planned Parenthood, Marie Stopes, and their friends at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the nefarious bullies of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) which serves not women but extreme ideology. To do their work, Amnesty International should stay far away from these people. (The girls at CEDAW have seriously discussed demanding that the world’s religions change their sacred texts to suit CEDAW’s standards of what is and is not discriminatory toward women.)

It should be quite clear to anyone in the West that modern liberalism is inimical to Catholicism—we see it every election season—and it is liberalism which informs the modern leftist culture of protest. In the United States, for example, one cannot be a liberal in good standing if one is pro-life and one cannot be a Catholic in good standing if one is not pro-life, no matter how they try to twist it. 

The subjection of authentic morality to political identity (left/right, etc.) and the imperative nature of the need to be identified with the “politically correct,” is a formula for the dictatorship of relativism. “Political correctness” is a form of secular self-righteousness—morality based not on divine law but on political fashion and whim, or intolerance in the guise of tolerance, evil masquerading as good. 

The Catholic News Agency (CNA) reported May 5 on the reaction of Father Joaquin Alliende, of Chile, the ecclesiastical assistant to the Catholic agency, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). Alliende said, “With great regret we have learned that Amnesty International has proposed advancing abortion ‘rights’ around the world as a new mission for their organization.” Alliende continued, “AI has earned a high reputation for its intensive efforts to gain the release of innocent prisoners of conscience. ACN, a charity that is also often a ‘voice of the voiceless,’ highly appreciates this moral commitment of AI.”

However, Alliende said, that “Now by proposing a pro-abortion initiative AI is abandoning its own noble ethical principles, thereby shaking the very foundations on which it is built; for the simple reason that unborn life in a mother’s womb is the very weakest of all threatened and persecuted human beings.” 

“Thus,” he concluded, “the day this initiative was launched will become a day of mourning for all those who are unconditionally committed to true humanism.” (

Should Amnesty International opt for the position that abortion is a universal “human right” it will be a political, not a moral decision—in fact, it will be an immoral decision, and they will have forfeited their credibility as a “voice of the voiceless.” They will simply add to the political din that drowns out the voice of the helpless unborn—and the voice of reason. 

To be philosophically and morally consistent Amnesty International should get off the political fence and join forces with the worldwide pro-life movement. Otherwise, the status of the unborn child as a political prisoner in the womb who may be arbitrarily executed on a whim will have been further sealed. 


Mallon is a Contributing Editor to Inside the Vatican. An archive of his articles may be seen at