STOCKHOLM, Sweden – In the largest effort of its kind in European Union history, nearly 2 million citizens have sign a petition that demands an end to EU funding of abortion or any activity that destroys unborn human life.
The One of Us initiative seeks a ban on all EU funds for “activities which presuppose the destruction of human embryos, in particular in the areas of research, development aid and public health.”
One of the major concerns of organizers and signatories is that the Brussels-based EU continues to fund abortion overseas – primarily in poor countries – under the guise of population control and “sexual health.”
Despite widespread objections and potential legal conflicts, the EU also continues to provide taxpayer funding to two of the largest abortion providers in the world, International Planned Parenthood Federation and Marie Stopes International.
Other organizations that perform, support and facilitate abortion worldwide also receive large amounts of EU funding, according to a 2012 report by European Dignity Watch.
While estimates vary, in all, the EU has provided hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to organizations that perpetrate or encourage abortion.
If the One of Us initiative is approved by policymakers, that will all come to an end.
Taxpayer-funded abortion within the union, however, would not be affected, as the EU has no authority over member states in that area. Just three of 28 national governments in the union currently protect the right to life: Poland, Malta and Ireland.
The One of Us alliance is also hoping to end all EU funding for scientific and medical research that in any way destroys human embryos, such as embryonic stem cell research.
“The EU must take this seriously because we have to care for life,” said Benedicta Lindberg, the One of Us coordinator for Sweden and the secretary-general for the Swedish pro-Life movement Respekt.
“Without caring for life, there is no European Union – there will be no EU in the future if you don’t care about people,” Lindberg told WND.
“The EU needs to care about people from the beginning of life – about everybody, not just those with big money and influence,” she added. “Even the tiniest ones among us deserve respect; every single human being.”
The historic campaign, which uses a relatively new mechanism introduced into the EU allowing citizens to petition Brussels for action, is the first successful effort of its kind since the European Citizens’ Initiative in the Lisbon Treaty came into effect.
Its success shocked the political establishment and has already drawn the ire of pro-abortion forces from across the bloc.
Supporters and pro-life activists, though, said the stunning campaign was a positive sign that illustrates broader trends in Europe.
“The One of Us citizenship initiative is proof that when the average European is given a voice, then more often than not they choose life,” said Senior Legal Counsel for Europe Roger Kiska with the Alliance Defending Freedom.
“In this case nearly 2 million Europeans strong have sent a message to Brussels that they will no longer tolerate the use of their hard earned money to fund abortions or the destruction of the embryo,” Kiska told WND.
The nations with the most signatories were Italy with 623,000; Poland, 235,000; Germany, 137,874; Spain, about 150,000; and Romania, more than 110,000.
Grégor Puppinck, director of the European Centre for Law and Justice, has been hard at work for years trying to defend life and family across Europe.
The pro-life attorney approvingly told WND that the One of Us initiative was the largest pro-life action by civil society at the European level in history. It is also the largest petition in the history of EU institutions, he said.
“The success of the initiative within the population shows that a large and increasing portion of the European population wants more respect for human life, including before birth,” said Puppinck, who served as the official representative for the campaign. “There is a real pro-life trend in Europe.”
The European people should understand that pro-life objectives are “authentically progressive,” he continued.
“The defense of human life before birth is not a retrograde fight,” Puppinck said. “On the contrary, it targets an improvement of conscience, existences and culture.”
“First it requires us to be conscientious of the existence of a human life before birth, and that this life is worth respect.”
Hearings in the European Parliament
Speaking during a recent hearing before the European Parliament on the issue, Puppinck made similar arguments in defense of the unborn.
“It took centuries for humanity to put an end to slavery, for us to recognize all human beings as our equals; in order for us to recognize that the foreigner or the ‘savage’ is ‘one of us,’” he told lawmakers.
“Yet, at that time, political, economic and financial interests were opposed to the recognition of the humanity and equal rights of slaves,” Puppinck said in his testimony.
“Today, we face a similar situation. We hear the same utilitarian arguments which invoke the importance for the economy of the ability to exploit and eliminate these human beings who are not truly human, and in any case, not equal to us.”
Numerous members of the European Parliament, particularly those from more socially conservative nations and center-right political parties, expressed strong support for the One of Us petition and Puppinck’s efforts.
“With more than 1.7 million signatures, One of Us is the most successful European Citizens’ Initiative ever,” noted a statement by a coalition of six MEPs from across the bloc. “However, it has provoked the anger of certain MEPs who, adhering to an outdated feminist ideology in which a woman’s ‘right to abortion’ is the greatest of all political achievements, now fear a backlash.”
Other European Parliament members were outraged by the petition, demanding to know whether the prominent European attorney had ties to American Christians.
Socialist leaders in the European Parliament were especially upset.
“We value the democratic involvement of citizens but what is presented as a European Citizens’ Initiative appears to be actually funded by extremist religious and political channels, and closely tied to organizations that are lobbying from the U.S. to Africa against women’s and LGBTI rights,” Hannes Swoboda, president of the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament, said in a statement.
In an opinion column published by EurActiv.com, which is funded in part by EU taxpayers and the pro-population control Gates Foundation, another member of the European Parliament also lashed out at the pro-life activists.
“This regressive initiative is the latest in a series of attacks on gender equality, women’s rights and sexual and reproductive health and rights at the national and European levels in recent months,” complained MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen of Finland.
According to proponents of using European taxpayers’ money to fund and promote abortion, the EU derives its authority to do so from Article 208 of the Lisbon Treaty, which deals with international development cooperation.
“The Member States shall comply with the commitments and take account of the objectives they have approved in the context of the United Nations and other competent international organizations,” the relevant section states.
Especially outraged were the abortion giants that would see their funding cut under the measure.
International Planned Parenthood Federation chief Tewodros Melesse, for example, speaking last week in Stockholm, blasted the campaign and its supporters.
“A woman doesn’t have an abortion for fun,” Melesse was quoted as saying in media reports cited on the organization’s website.
The reports claimed that One of Us campaigners did not care about the lives of women.
Outside of Europe, the IPPF has also come under strong criticism in the United States, where a 2012 congressional hearing heard evidence that the group was participating in the perpetration of forced abortions in China as part of the communist government’s “one-child” policy.
To be heard, a citizens’ initiative must meet several criteria: At least 1 million signatures of EU voters from a minimum of seven countries must be collected within one year of the registration date.
The One of Us campaign far surpassed the thresholds. In just three months, around 1.9 million signatures were collected from across the bloc, forcing the European Commission – a sort of hybrid executive and legislative branch – to consider the initiative.
It was formally submitted, and on April 9, organizers met with commission officials to discuss it. The hearings in the European Parliament were held the next day. The transnational body now has until May 28 to decide how to proceed.
The successful gathering of nearly 2 million signatures for the Citizens’ Initiative comes less than six months after WND reported that socialists and Planned Parenthood failed in their effort to obtain a declaration that abortion and sex education for young children are “human rights” in the European Parliament.