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O'Doherty: Amnesty jump shark with abortion demands

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Abortion call: Amnesty's Colm O'Gorman and Salil Shetty, Dr Rhona Mahony, of the National Maternity Hospital

Abortion call: Amnesty's Colm O'Gorman and Salil Shetty, Dr Rhona Mahony, of the National Maternity Hospital

Abortion call: Amnesty's Colm O'Gorman and Salil Shetty, Dr Rhona Mahony, of the National Maternity Hospital

Anybody who grew up during the 1980s will recall, with a shiver, the febrile nature of those times. Abortion and divorce had become the hot button issues in the country as a still-dominant Church used every tactic it could muster against the demonic forces of liberalism and common sense.

While religious and social conservatives may have seen divorce and abortion as merely different sides of the same coin, they failed to take into account the fact that plenty of people who were in favour of divorce were also uncomfortable with abortion.

At the time, the one political movement that everyone could support was the avowedly non-political Amnesty International.

In those dog days of the Cold War, half the world was ruled by lunatic, genocidal despots who were propped up by either one of the super powers. So, a group like Amnesty, which was dedicated to raising the plight of prisoners of conscience, had plenty of business and they enjoyed a unique, unifying place in Irish society - they were seen as the good guys, even by people who could agree on nothing else.

But that was then.

These days, unfortunately, Amnesty Ireland is simply another predictable, left-wing, campaigning group which dips its beak into matters that should be none of its concern.

Their involvement in the recent gay marriage referendum was bad enough (although still nowhere near as disconcerting as the cops campaigning for a Yes vote, in fairness) but their latest decision to call for more liberal abortion laws in Ireland will only succeed in alienating many of the group's supporters - even those who agree with their sentiment.

The muddled thinking behind their decision to get involved in something which is outside their remit is typical of the divisive and exclusionary tactics so often employed by so-called liberals when it comes to social issues.

For example, when Amnesty's Secretary General Salil Shetty informed us this week that "the timing is right. On some of the taboo issues... public opinion is really shifting and it's important that leaders do the right thing", many supporters of previous Amnesty campaigns would have been forgiven for immediately cancelling any contributions they might make to the organisation.

Whether Amnesty wants to admit it or not, it's possible for someone to be opposed to the persecution of political prisoners and still be against abortion.

That's because most people don't subscribe to the totalitarian group think that characterises the modern Left. Most people reject the orthodoxy which demands that if you feel strongly about one issue, you must, by extension, feel equally strongly about a raft of unrelated issues, which is why the average liberal is expected to tick all the correct boxes on everything from America to Israel to fracking to global warming to abortion.

Unfortunately for Amnesty, however, that kind of universal hive mentality doesn't exist outside of a narrow, Twitter-led bubble of activists and cranks and the kind of smug maniacs who would see people jailed for 'hate speech' (which is anything they don't like).

Will Colm O'Gorman be consistent and ask any Amnesty supporters who are also pro-life to stop their monthly standing order to the organisation?

Surely accepting cash from people who apparently collude in denying women their human rights is nothing more than a case of taking blood money? As ever, we're seeing a very Irish inability to get past our feelings when we should be using logic.

After all, the same people who so loudly defended the GRA for endorsing a Yes vote would have been quick to start complaining if they had advocated a No vote instead.

Simply put, this is none of Amnesty's business.

Of course, if Amnesty was really a non-political, non-partisan group which supported the rights of people to live by their conscience, they might have raised some red flags about the persecution of the Ashers bakery. If the McArthur family, who own Ashers, refuse to pay the fine on a point of principle and are jailed for their stance, will Amnesty support these prisoners of conscience? I think we all know the answer to that one...

Indo Review