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Last Updated: Saturday, 18 August 2007, 04:45 GMT 05:45 UK
Amnesty ends abortion neutrality
By Robert Pigott
Religious affairs correspondent, BBC News

baby scan
The Vatican describes abortion as "murder"
Amnesty International has confirmed its controversial decision to back abortion in some circumstances, replacing its previous policy of neutrality.

The human rights group will campaign for woman to have access to abortion in cases including rape and incest.

The initial decision was taken in April, but Amnesty delegates meeting in Mexico gave it overwhelming support.

Christian organisations, including the Roman Catholic Church, have threatened to withdraw support from the group.

The decision in April by Amnesty's executive committee to support access to abortion for women in cases of rape, incest or violence, or where the pregnancy jeopardises a mother's life or health was greeted with an outcry by churches.

Roman Catholic leaders in particular accused Amnesty of betraying its commitment to human rights, and a senior Vatican official called on Catholics to stop funding it.

But Amnesty's international council - meeting in Mexico - has overwhelmingly supported the decision, insisting it was upholding the ability of women to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights free from coercion and violence.

Amnesty has been working in countries where widespread rape has been used as a weapon of war, and others in which women seeking abortions can be severely punished.


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