Strasbourg, France (CFAM) — Europe’s most audacious effort to protect life is a few thousand signatures away from forcing the European Parliament to schedule a debate on protecting every human life from conception.
The “One of Us” petition got a boost in May when Pope Francis endorsed it.
Every person, no matter how young, “deserves respect” according to the One of Us initiative that has garnered over 850,000 signatures. If it gathers 1 million signatories by November 1, the European Parliament may have to consider a ban on funding research that destroys human embryos.
The European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union (EU), would have to respond to the sponsors of One of Us under a new procedure created by the Lisbon Treaty. The Commission would table the item for discussion in the European Parliament.
Proponents say One of Us is about protecting the “dignity, the right to life and the integrity of every human being” including embryos. This is consistent with the European Court of Justice’s decision in the famous Brüstle v. Greenpeace case that, under EU directives, the results of research that destroys human embryos cannot be patented.
The Court reasoned that human embryos constitute the beginning of the development of human life and such patents would not be compatible with human dignity.
Not everyone in Europe looks forward to a debate about human life and dignity at the European Parliament. Earlier this summer an Austrian youth organization tried to host an event at the European Parliament to draw attention to the One of Us initiative, but Irish EU official Jim Higgins refused their application. He reportedly told them their display was “too controversial” without specifying what was controversial about it. The organization was not allowed to hold their event despite the youth organization’s willingness to change whatever Higgins found offensive.
While abortion is legal in most of Europe, research that destroys human embryos is widely frowned upon. In many quarters it is reminiscent of brutal scientific experiments on humans.
One of Us would be the second EU citizen’s initiatives to succeed. The other seeks to declare water a human right and has gathered 1.3 million signatures in Germany and 400,000 elsewhere in Europe.
For a petition to come before the European Commission, 1 million signatures must be collected within a year of being launched and come from seven or more of the 28 EU countries, with established quotas for each.
Obtaining the required signatures in the timeframe is no simple feat. Nine other initiatives that expire this year are likely to fail, including one chosen by the European Commission as the first citizen’s initiative. Fraternite2020, about more funding for the popular Erasmus student exchange program, could not muster 100,000 signatures.
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One of Us has already reached the necessary quota in 10 countries, and now looks to bulk up the total volume. Surprisingly, it is short on signatures from countries that are traditionally pro-life and have laws that protect the unborn like Ireland and Malta.
One of Us has been endorsed by several European pro-life organizations. Prior to his retirement in February, Pope Benedict XVI gave a nod to its proponents in one of his last public appearances at a Sunday Angelus.
LifeNews.com Note: Stefano Gennarini, J.D., writes for the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. This article originally appeared in the pro-life group’s Friday Fax publication and is used with permission.