Successful hearing in European Parliament on citizens’ initiative against destruction of embryos

Today the European Parliament hosted a public hearing on the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) “One of Us.” Officially launched in January 2013, One of Us aims to protect human embryos and calls for legislative action declaring that no EU funds go to the destruction of human embryos. The initiative gathered 1.8 million signatures from European citizens in 20 of the 28 EU Member States.

The ECI mechanism allows for direct legislative proposals at the EU level. It requires one million signatures from EU citizens from a quarter of the EU Member States, followed by formal recognition by the European Commission. This formal recognition allows for a hearing at the European Parliament with the European Commission. One of Us is only the second ECI to have such a hearing. After the hearing, the Commission must reach a decision on whether it will adopt legislation on the destruction of human embryos, act in some other way, or not take any action. There is no guarantee the initiative will result in the desired legislative action, but it has created significant political pressure to do so.

One of Us organisers are calling today’s hearing “historic” and the first time the Parliament has seen a “frank, honest and high-level debate about the inconsistencies of the EU regarding the equal protection of every human being from the moment of conception onwards.” Several representatives of One of Us spoke, in addition to Members of European Parliament (MEP) in favour of and against the initiative.

All participating representatives welcomed the ECI as a needed and beneficial European democratic instrument. Divided into two panels, the hearing covered EU research funding and EU Development Aid.

Mr. Gregor Puppinck, president of the Citizens’ Committee backing One of Us, clarified misleading statements made by MEPs in the room, and stated that “the initiative has no intention to cut or reduce the EU’s development aid budget but only submits that this budget should not be used to kill unborn children.” He explained, “It does not push for a prohibition of abortion in any EU Member State, and in any country outside the EU” or “seek to cut back EU funding for research.” The aim of the initiative is “to ensure that public money is spent on research projects that do not involve the destruction of human embryos.”

European Dignity Watch’s Ms. Sophia Kuby presented how the European Commission funds the world’s largest abortion providers, International Planned Parenthood Federation and Marie Stopes International, through its Development Aid, even though it does not have the authority to fund abortions, “as established by the principles of conferral and subsidiarity, by the position assumed by the Commission itself, and by the requirement of unanimity on foreign policy matters.” Abortion policy is a matter for individual EU Member States, not the EU as a whole.

Several MEPs warmly welcomed the public hearing and the Initiative itself, including Mr. Szymanski, Mr. Legutko, Mr. Mayor-Oreja, Mr. Mikolásik, Mr. Peterle, Mr. Cassini, Ms. Zaborska, Mr. Piotrowski and Mr. Stadler.

As a supporter of One of Us, the World Youth Alliance praises our allies and friends for their strong work on defending human life from conception. We urge the Commission to take the draft of One of Us and transform it into a full-fledged legislative proposal that allows the Parliament and the Council to take an important step in protecting human life.