from Amnesty International after the organisation took a step closer to adopting a pro-abortion policy.
The New Zealand Section of Amnesty became the latest branch to vote in favour of dumping its neutral stance on abortion.
Instead. it wants to adopt a policy of campaigning for abortion as a universal "sexual and reproductive right".
If a majority of the organisation's 72 sections vote the same way, the human rights group that was founded to help to releaae prisoners of conscience will from next year begin to campaign for abortion rights in all countries where it is illegal, including the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Malta.
The vote at the Amnesty annual general meeting in Wellington came just weeks after the British section also voted in favour of a pro-abortion policy.
The move was instantly condemned by New Zealand Right to Life which accused the group of "turning its back on human rights".
-Abortion entails the destruction of an innocent unborn child, the weakest and most defenceless member of the human
family," a spokesman said.
In Canada. where a vote on abortion will he taken at the Canadian section's AGM in Winnipeg later this month, Catholic and Evangelical Church leaders have warned the group that they are ready to withdraw their support.
And in the United Kingdom, a Catholic bishop who has been active in Amnesty since the 1970s wrote to Kate Allen, the director of the British Section, to say he would leave the group and take thousands of worshippers with him.
Bishop Michael Evans of East Anglia, said he was "dismayed" when Amnesty delegates meeting at the University of Warwick, near Coventry, adopted a resolution which stated that the "till realisation of human rights should be understood to mean that a woman's rights to physical and mental integrity includes her right to terminate her pregnancy ... and therefore abortion should be a legal, safe and accessible option for all women".
He told Miss Allen in a letter that "many Roman Catholics, including myself, would feel obliged very reluctantly to withdraw our membership of an organisation which has done great work since Peter Benenson , a Roman Catholic, founded it in 1961". The bishop, a former member of thc British Section Council who worked on Amnesty's recent "Protect the Human" recruitment campaign, said such a move would destroy the group's credibility in the eyes of many other people.
Amnesty began to contemplate a change of policy on abortion at a meeting of its international council in Mexico last year when it vowed to fight for the right of all to "exercise their sexual and reproductive rights free from coercion, discriminafion and violence".
Each of the organisation's sections then began to consult members with a view to defining their positions on the issue by the end of May this year.
A final decision will be made either when the international council next meets in Mexico in August 2007 or if a clear consensus emerges among the sections.
"All policy development is set at international level and involves Amnesty International sections around the world," explained Steve Ballinger, spokesman for Amnesty.
"At the moment there has been no change to Amnesty International policy on this issue, and this will remain the case until our International Executive Committee or the 2007 International Council Meeting decides policy."