A Response to Amnesty International's Abortion Policy in Light of Mulieris Dignitatem

By Adolphe, Jane F. | Ave Maria Law Review, Spring 2010 | Go to article overview
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A Response to Amnesty International's Abortion Policy in Light of Mulieris Dignitatem


Adolphe, Jane F., Ave Maria Law Review


INTRODUCTION

It is an honor and a challenge to participate in a conference devoted to the interdisciplinary study of Pope John Paul II's apostolic letter Mulieris Dignitatem. This Article focuses on chapter four, "Eve-Mary," and in particular, the effects of original sin on the relationship between man and woman. When considering the "disturbance of this original relationship," (1) two questions are raised: What is the original relationship? How is it disturbed? In response, Pope John Paul II argues that the original relationship between man and woman was one of "communion,.... unity of the two," existing "side by side" and "one for the other," founded on a fundamental equality that stems from their dignity as human persons made in the image and likeness of God. (2) The original relationship was later disrupted and marked by a break in this unity, with more tragic results for woman, because mutual sincere gift of self is replaced with man's domination of woman. (3) The disturbance reaches an insidious level when a man forces a mother into an unwanted abortion, or injures or kills her, along with her unborn child, when the woman resists. Professor Ernest Caparros, in his article devoted to the perspective of the "disordered man," studies these violent situations. (4) Such destructiveness impinges on the discipline of international law through the promotion of women's sexual and reproductive health rights, including abortion. In this regard, the abortion policy of Amnesty International ("AI"), (5) as developed in conjunction with its global campaign to eliminate violence against women, offers a point of departure and a case study.

At first glance, AI's "Campaign to Stop Violence Against Women" appears to be thoroughly laudable: a respected organization includes its voice among the chorus of those calling for the elimination of violence against women. But, couched in the language of "sexual and reproductive health rights," AI's newfound "remedy" for rape and incest is abortion--itself a form of brutality. Only by denying the personhood of the fetus and ignoring the well-documented post-abortion suffering of women can AI deflect accusations that its policy promotes further violence and human suffering.

As an alternative to AI's logic of violence, this Article offers the logic of love. Pregnancy is viewed as a relationship between two persons (the mother and her developing unborn child) (6)--an intimate bond that is ultimately destroyed by procured abortion. Abortion attacks the mother's internal system, which has been activated to sustain human life, and deliberately kills the developing human being. The bond between mother and child is thus broken, and both subjects of the relationship are harmed.

To flesh out this thesis, the Article is divided into two parts. Part I, "The Logic of Violence," offers a critique of Amnesty International's abortion policy. This section argues that AI's abortion policy is riddled with internal inconsistencies and obfuscations about the true breadth of the policy. It reviews the new abortion policy in the context of human rights language, commencing with underlying assumptions and then turning to various scenarios: health-risk abortions, sex-selective abortions, disability-selective abortions, and partial-birth abortions. This Article argues that AI's "rights approach"--a radically individualistic perspective that denies the relational dimension of pregnancy--joins sexual violence with the destructiveness of abortion, which in turn begets more suffering. On one hand, the mother, who has already been the victim of grievous bodily and psychological harm, must endure the intrusions of abortion on her person and its deleterious effects, while on the other hand, her unborn child is destroyed, the eventual realization of which greatly adds to her afflictions.

By pondering "The Logic of Love" in Part II, a person of good will can come to understand that the sine qua non to breaking the cycle of violence--AI's avowed aim--is healing love and forgiveness.

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