a bird and a bottle

Women’s Rights Are Human Rights

At the Vienna Convention in 1961, the participants declared that women’s rights are human rights.

women’s rights are human rights

But it was only yesterday that Amnesty International UK, the British affiliate of one of the leading human rights organizations in the world, announced that it had decided to support abortion rights. Human rights advocacy groups have long stayed away from abortion (and remained neutral officially) because of the political nature of the debate around abortion and because of how explosive those conversations have been. Yesterday’s announcement is not representative of Amnesty International globally, but it may indicate that a change will come when the organization’s full Council votes on it this summer.

Salon’s broadsheet has the background:

But the vote, which came in response to a rising number of repressive anti-abortion laws, is being used to test the waters about changing Amnesty’s global position. The change would allow substantial legal influence to work on behalf of women who are being prosecuted or persecuted for having abortions.

I say: if we’re serious that women’s rights are human rights, this step is long overdue. Catholics for a Free Choice (an American organization) agrees:

Catholics for a Free Choice President Jon O’Brien supports AIUK’s decision, saying, “Increasingly, human rights advocacy groups the world over are realizing that a woman’s freedom is intimately tied to her ability to control her reproductive health. Be it the UK, Ireland or Mexico, all women deserve access to safe, legal abortion. Amnesty International UK has a great opportunity to affirm that reproductive rights, including the right to end a pregnancy through abortion, are a vital part of the human rights canon.”

Of course, anti-choice organizations are already coming out against this step. You can voice your support for international recognition of abortion as a human right by contacting Amnesty here.


1 Comment so far
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It’s going to be deeply controversial, no doubt. But any human rights violator who Amnesty criticizes starts whining about how it’s really just a biased political organization that should stick to exposing the other side’s misgivings. Amnesty’s gotten used to getting this; it’s successfully taken on the US, so I’m confident it can weather anything the Catholic Church will throw at it.

Comment by Alon Levy

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