Pro-life groups from 20 different countries throughout Europe have recently launched a petition which requests the European Parliament to recognize that life begins at conception.
The movement, called "One of Us," is comprised of primarily independent anti-abortion Roman Catholic groups which are seeking to gain one million signatures in seven of 27 countries in the European Union by Nov. 2013.
Should the petition gain one million signatures by that time, the European Parliament will be forced to schedule a debate on the issue of life at conception.
The "One of Us" website describes the petition as having "greater political potential than any other initiative that has been undertaken so far to protect the dignity of the person and life from conception at a European scale."
"If a consensus will be achieved among one million citizens or more, a concrete ethical standard could be established across Europe with regards to the respect of the dignity of each member of the human family, no matter how young it is," the petition's initiative reads.
Those backing the petition acknowledge that the European Union does not possess legislative power to address abortion laws, as they are specific to each individual state.
The petition's website states that its goal, by passing the petition into law in the European Parliament, is "to end the [European Union's] financing of activities which presuppose the destruction of human embryos, in particular in the areas of research, development aid and public health."
"This will be done through a change of the financial regulation of the EU that determines the spending of the EU budget. A ban of such funding will greatly contribute to the consistency within the EU," the website adds.
The petition has reportedly already gained the support of churches, politicians, Members of the European Parliament and civil society leaders throughout Europe.
The issue of abortion and life at conception in Europe is one of great concern, especially among the religiously-affiliated.
Currently, abortion is legal in most European countries, with the exception of Ireland and Malta, within the first trimester of the pregnancy.
According to a Jan. 2012 study published in the Lancet Medical Journal and reported by the Daily Mail, 30 percent of pregnancies in Europe end in abortion, with the rates of abortion being far higher in eastern and northern Europe in comparison to western Europe.