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Letters & Op-Eds - 2007

independent

Catholics defy Vatican ban on Amnesty over stance on abortion

Jon O'Brien

18 June 2007

Sir: Your leading article, "A singular lack of compassion", (15 June) is exactly right. The Vatican's teachings on reproductive rights do irreparable harm to women's health the world over.

But we may take solace, because individual Catholics are unlikely to obey the cardinal's instruction to stop funding Amnesty International over its recent decision to support reproductive rights, given that we have long followed our own consciences and split from the Vatican's line on a host of issues, from contraception and abortion to the right to divorce and gay rights.

Amnesty will now be able to provide support to women in situations like the X case in Ireland, when a 14-year-old girl who threatened suicide if she was not allowed to have an abortion was detained by the Irish courts to prevent an abortion, as well as in cases such as the one in Mexico, when 13-year-old Paulina was raped in her own home by an intruder then refused an abortion by local officials.

Catholics may continue to support and fund Amnesty International, safe in the knowledge that its work on this issue can help save thousands of women's lives.

This letter originally appeared in the June 18, 2007 edition of the Independent.