With the ratification of a new policy on sexual and reproductive rights, Amnesty International (AI) has abandoned its formerly neutral stance on abortion. The 1.5 million-member organization now says that "women and men must exercise their sexual and reproductive rights free from coercion, discrimination, and violence."

AI's nine-member international executive committee quietly decided in April to change the human-rights group's stance, partly in response to mass rapes in Darfur, Sudan. On August 17, at AI's international meeting in Mexico City, 400-plus delegates from 75 countries voted publicly to adopt the committee's recommendation. The new policy supports the "decriminalization of abortion" and "access to abortion, within reasonable gestational limits, when [women's] health or human rights are in danger."

Amnesty's USA branch said that the new policy does not reflect a pro-abortion stance. "Amnesty International will not campaign for legalization of abortion generally," executive director Larry Cox wrote to supporters. "Nor will we take a position on whether abortion is right or wrong or on laws regulating the termination of pregnancy, and we will not counsel individuals about whether to continue or terminate a pregnancy."

Still, some evangelical leaders find the policy change distressing. Prison Fellowship Ministries (PFM) president and CEO Mark Earley shares Amnesty International's compassion for women whose pregnancies are caused by violent crime. "But advocating abortion even in those tragic cases betrays [AI's] long-held commitment to human rights," he said. "The value of a child's life is not determined by the circumstances of that child's conception."

Earley said that on common-ground issues such as prison reform, ...

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