(Photo: Flickr/William Murphy)
A pro-life petition made to the European Union's legislative arm, which would define life as beginning at conception, has garnered over one million signatures.
Championed by the "One of Us" campaign, the personhood petition reached and passed the milestone last week, meaning it will likely receive attention from the European Commission. "Juridical protection of the dignity, the right to life and of the integrity of every human being from conception in the areas of EU competence in which such protection is of particular importance," reads the initiative in part. "To ensure consistency in areas of its competence where the life of the human embryo is at stake, the EU should establish a ban and end the financing of activities which presuppose the destruction of human embryos, in particular in the areas of research, development aid and public health."
Registered last year, the petition garnered signatures from citizens of eleven EU member nations. The One of Us campaign received support and advice from Personhood USA, an American organization with similar goals.
Josh Craddock, United Nations liaison for Personhood USA, told The Christian Post about the meeting his organization had with One of Us last year in Europe.
"Personhood USA met with representatives from the 'One of Us' campaign during its 2012 Global Pro-Life Unity Summit in Lisbon. Together, we drafted the Lisbon Declaration…which outlined principles for promoting personhood rights for all human beings," said Craddock.
"Personhood USA also shared its strategy of grassroots mobilization for petition drives, which has been repeatedly effective in the United States."
Craddock also told CP that he felt the success of the petition in gathering support "signals the revival of the pro-life movement in Europe." The petition was part of the European Citizens' Initiative (ECI), an effort by the EU to involve more direct democracy principles in the structure of the European Commission.
According to the Commission's website, for a petition to be seriously considered it must have at least one million signatures from individuals of voting age who are citizens of an EU member nation. Once a petition reaches the one million mark the Commission will consider the initiative and meet with its organizers.
Kate Smurthwaite, vice chair and media spokesperson for Abortion Rights UK, told The Christian Post that she did not believe the initiative would succeed. "Healthcare provision has always been a matter for individual nations within the EU. Any attempt to over-ride that would certainly be met with a tide of opposition," said Smurthwaite. "…an attempt to do so in a fashion which goes against the wishes of the vast majority of people in the EU would be ridiculous."
Smurthwaite also said that she considered the "One of Us" campaign's initiative to be "highly discriminatory and classist." "If member states are prohibited from providing funding for abortions wealthy women from professional and monied families will continue to be able to access the services they want," said Smurthwaite.
"Women in lower paid jobs will find themselves trapped between being forced to raise a child, stretching their resources even further, and pushing them further into poverty, and dangerous, illegal, 'backstreet' abortion."