Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe

Popular Expression vs. Political Power in the EU - is 1.8 Million EU Citizens enough to convince the European Commission to implement the ruling of the European Court of Justice?


Strasbourg, 14 April 2014

As the last plenary session of the European Parliament before the European elections is about to begin, some Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are voicing concern that EU citizens are not agreeing with the agenda set by the European institutions in the areas of research and development aid.

Last Thursday the public hearing of the European Citizens Intiative One of Us took place at the European Parliament in Brussels. In a fully packed room over 400 people the biggest petition ever in the history of the European Union was presented, voicing the request of over 1.8 Million EU citizens to end the EU funding of activities which presuppose the destruction of human embryos, i.e. research and development aid.

Whereas most EU citizens are certainly concerned with the health of everyone, some political voices try to discredit the biggest popular expression ever in the history of the EU. Following the public hearing the President of the Socialist and Democrats group, Austrian MEP Hannes Swoboda, stated that “constructive debate of ethical standards must not be substituted by ideological hate-speeches as witnessed at the hearing today.” In fact, Mr Swoboda was not present himself at the hearing, had he been he could have witnessed the true tone in the debate, the one of many citizens who care about human dignity, at every stage of life and of every human being.

During the hearing some MEPs tried to frame the issue as being “complex”. This approach was refuted by Dr Grégor Puppinck, President of One of Us, who emphasized the simplicity of the question to know whether human dignity should be respected at every stage of life or not: “Our request is simple and precise, it is founded on the “acquis communautaire” (i.e. the EU law and jurisprudence), even more, it is just and constructive.”

Dr Puppinck also underlined that One of Us is an invitation to care about others, about the unborn and most defenseless, which he described as a message that for some is “difficult to hear, as every truth. It challenges our egoism.”

One of Us illustrates the abyssal difference between what Dr Puppinck described as « powerful financial interest groups and transnational lobbies” that promote research on embryonic stem cells or the right to abortion on the one hand, and a huge crowd of citizens who have freely given their time and consideration as volunteers to support the citizens initiative. One of those lobbies is IPPF, the International Federation of Planned Parenthood, an organisation whose annual budget of over 125 M US $ is substantially funded by EU Governments (approx. 40% of the global budget).

As things currently stand the EU is in fact inconsistent. The EU is funding research that goes against a ruling by the European Court of Justice known as the Brüstle ruling that recognizes the duty to respect the dignity of the human embryo.

As the recent Estrela resolution on “Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights” clearly states the EU has no competence on the issue of abortion. Nevertheless, the EU is conducting a form of neo-colonialism by exporting abortion through development aid, even to countries where abortion is illegal. This approach is clearly breaching the respect for national laws, customs and cultures in countries that dearly need financial support but who are trapped by the “Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights” Agenda promoted by the above mentioned NGO among others.

In other words the financial support needed to develop health services for expecting mothers is conditioned not by their real need for basic and accessible health care and decent sanitary conditions, but by an ideological agenda. Access to to abortion is presented as a solution to maternal mortality, in reality it increases another form of mortality, namely child mortality. Such an approach is not acceptable neither for the more than 1.8 M signatories of One of Us, nor for the EU whose fundamental rights charter clearly states that everyone has a right to life and that Human dignity is inviolable and must be respected and protected.

Can the voices of nearly 2 M citizens make a change? This hearing is truly a historical step in favour of human dignity, in Europe and beyond, as the initiative asks the EU to cease all funding of activities that presuppose the destruction of the human embryo. It is also an alarm bell as it reveals the intricate link between development aid and the promotion of a right to abortion.

The next and last step is now the European Commission’s decision that shall be presented by the 28th of May at the latest, 3 days after the European Elections. The first European Citizens Initiative presented, Right to Water, was refused by the European Commission although water is a basic need of EU citizens…

Will the European Commission consider the most fundamental of rights, the right to life, of everyone massively supported by EU citizens or will it cave into to the pressure put by political opponents to One of Us? FAFCE will pay close attention to the decision made by the European Commission and also encourages candidates to the European Elections to support One of Us by signing the Vote for Family 2014 Manifesto (www.voteforfamily2014.eu).


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