The “One of Us” campaign launched this month by leaders in twenty European countries calls for the European Union to stop funding efforts that destroy pre-born life, including groups that perform abortions in developing countries. It follows a European Court of Justice ruling in 2011, in a lawsuit brought by Greenpeace, that human life begins at conception and deserves legal protection.
“One of Us” is a European Citizen Initiative, a new method provided in the Treaty of Lisbon for proposing legislation in the European Union. It requires signatures from at least one million EU citizens in at least 7 out of the 27 member states. Pro-family leaders from seven countries are spearheading the effort with support from politicians and civil society leaders in other countries.
If the campaign gathers one million signatures, the European Parliament is duty-bound to schedule a debate on the issue.
Currently, European policies are at odds with the European Court of Justice decision.
"Europe today is funding scientific research that destroys and manipulates embryos, funds international groups touting abortion, proposes voluntary interruption of pregnancy as a solution to the health problems of women," Italian Member of the European Parliament Carlo Casini told the Zenit news agency.
Casini, the President of the Constitutional Affairs Committee of the European Parliament and President of the Italian Movement for Life, believes "that with the recognition of life from the moment of conception, Europe's policies would shift in favor of unborn life."
In 1997, the environmental group Greenpeace sued Oliver Brüstle, a scientist who held a patent for a process using embryonic stem cells lines. Greenpeace argued that a European Union (EU) directive barred stem-cell techniques from being patented if they require the prior destruction of human embryos.
The case hinged on whether a certain stage of development had to occur. The court decided it covered all stages of life, stating the European Union “intended to exclude any possibility of patentability where respect for human dignity could thereby be affected.”
“It follows, in the view of the Court, that the concept of ‘human embryo’ must be understood in a wide sense. Accordingly, the Court considers that any human ovum must, as soon as fertilized, be regarded as a ‘human embryo’ if that fertilization is such as to commence the process of development of a human being,” declared the decision.
Pro-life leaders saw the logical next step. “The EU cannot go on funding research that involved the destruction of human embryos as it does up to now,” Sophia Kuby, director of European Dignity Watch, said at that time.
The European Union cannot legislate on abortion, as the issue falls under the authority of individual countries. However, the EU funds groups engaged in destroying human embryos.
“One of Us” calls for banning the EU’s “financing of activities which presuppose the destruction of human embryos, in particular in the areas of research, development aid and public health.”
The deadline for signatures, which are collected online, is November 1, 2013. Signers must be EU citizens and old enough to vote in European Parliament elections.