Amnesty International criticises Mexico on abortion opt-out

Amnesty International has demanded that Mexico force doctors to perform abortions. The organisation held protests last week in Mexico City and Madrid denouncing the Mexican government for not forcing doctors to perform abortions and give emergency contraception to rape victims.

The protests followed a decision by the Mexican government to alter its policy on treating victims of sexual violence. The policy passed last July originally said that all health professionals were required to perform abortions for rape victims. However, the finalised version of the policy allows doctors the right to refuse to take part in abortions.

Alberto Herrera Aragon, the Mexican representative of Amnesty International, said that the altered policy is in violation of international treaties signed by Mexico, which he claims require the government to make abortions available to women.

The Spanish news service Terra said that Amnesty International’s petition, which was signed by 5,000 people across the world, said that abortions for rape victims were “an obligation of the Mexican government”. It also said that "sexual and reproductive rights should not be permitted, but guaranteed".

However, Jorge Serrano, Director of Mexico's National Pro-Life Committee, told LifeSiteNews, "That's not true. Mexico has signed the Treaty for the Rights of the Child to protect ... life. However, they are doing abortions, in violation of those treaties."

Serrano said this his group would be holding a counter protest in front of the Secretariat of Health on Tuesday.

In addition Piero Tozzi, Executive Vice President of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, said that Amnesty International’s claims of the right to abortion are misplaced.

Tozzi said, "There is no 'right to abortion' under international law … Amnesty is particularly disingenuous in claiming there is, since as late as 2005, Amnesty used to state that no such right existed. The only thing that changed was a policy decision by Amnesty to abandon neutrality and objectivity on the issue and join radical pro-abortion groups like the Center for Reproductive Rights in pushing an abortion agenda on the developing world."

During last week's protest, pro-choice activists held signs saying, "access to health services for all women" and "guarantee access to legal abortion for the victims of violence".

One of the groups taking part in the protest was "Catholics for the Right to Decide", a group which the Catholic Church has said misleads Catholics about Church teaching on abortion.

Amnesty International was founded in 1961 but took no position on abortion until 2007, when it declared it to be a “human right”. Subsequently the Pope and other Catholic bishops ceased their support of the organisation.