European pro-life initiative gains one million supporters

Brussels, Belgium, Sep 19, 2013 / 05:24 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- An initiative to propose to the European Parliament a ban on the funding of embryo-destructive policies has gained one million signatures, ensuring the proposal will be received at the legislature.

The initiative, “One of Us,” seeks to protect the “dignity, the right to life and the integrity of every human being” for all human persons at all stages of development, according to the organizers' website.

The proposal is a European citizens’ initiative, which is a means for E.U. citizens to introduce proposed legislation to the E.U. Parliament. In announcing this legislative proposal process, the European Commission has stated that in order to be introduced to the parliament, citizens’ initiatives must receive more than one million signatures from E.U. citizens, and a minimum number of signatures from at least seven of the 27 countries in the E.U. within a year of their introduction.

One of Us passed the one million vote mark in early September, more than one month ahead of its Nov. 1 deadline. It also has the minimum number of signatures in 11 E.U. member countries: Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Spain.

Since One of Us has met the requirements, the European Commission will ask the E.U. “to end the financing of activities which presuppose the destruction of human embryos, in particular in the areas of research, development aid and public health.”

This move would force the European Parliament “to schedule a debate on the issue of life at conception,” One of Us' website explained.

The proposal is only the second European citizens’ initiative to receive the support needed to present the initiative to parliament. In addition to wide support among individuals, One of Us has the official support of over 40 pro-life leaders, politicians, scholars, and doctors from across the continent.

Furthermore, Catholic bishops from across the E.U. – including both Benedict XVI and Pope Francis – have spoken in support of the campaign.

During an Italian march for life held in May, Pope Francis said, “I invite everyone to stay focused on the important issue of respect for human life, from the moment of conception.”
 
“I am pleased to recall the petition to support the ‘One of Us’ initiative to ensure legal protection to the embryo, protecting every human being from the first moment of its existence.”

And in February, Benedict XVI had said, “I greet the Movement for Life and wish it success on the ‘One of Us’ initiative so that Europe might always be a place where every human being's dignity is safeguarded.”

If the legislation is passed, it will ban the funding of embryo-destructive policies, including research, health programs, and abortions throughout the E.U.

“A ban of such funding will greatly contribute to the consistency within the EU," the website adds.

Currently, abortion and embryo-destructive research laws vary widely from country to country within the union.

Abortion is legal within the first trimester throughout Europe, except in Malta, but with differing restrictions in each member state. It was legalized in late June in Ireland.

In addition, countries throughout the E.U. have different laws governing the legality and funding of embryo-destructive research, such as for embryonic stem cells or for reproductive technologies.

The initiative is still able to collect votes until it closes on Nov. 1, and aims to gain 1.5 million by that date, as well as minimum support from the remaining E.U. member states.

On Sept. 22, One of Us will hold a Europe-wide day in support of the initiative to garner more support and signatures.

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