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1.8 million signatures collected in ‘One of Us’ campaign

By Susan Gately - 09 November, 2013

One of Us

One of Us

Pro-life groups across Europe are celebrating as more than 1.8 million signatures have been gathered for a campaign aimed at preventing the funding of embryo research in the EU. 

The campaign uses the new EU Citizen’s initiative mechanism to ask the European Commission to bring forward legislation.

To succeed, the initiative needed the support (signatures) of at least one million EU citizens, coming from a minimum of 7 out of the 27 member states by 1 November 2013.

Each country had a quota of signatures that it had to reach – Ireland’s was 9,000. In the end, 20 of the 27 EU states reached their quotas including Ireland.

‘One of Us’ was one of the first registered European citizens’ initiatives (ECI) in the European Union, and according to Grégor Puppinck, President of the committee of the European Citizen Initiative One of Us, the “first and greatest success”.

“Twenty countries have reached the minimum threshold of signatures required by the European Commission, evidencing that the will to defend the human embryo is deeply rooted within the populations of Europe,” Dr Puppinck, who is also Director of the European Centre for Law and Justice, said.

Signatures were collected through the website: www.oneofus.eu, where people registered giving their name, address and date of birth. The site is now closed.

Thanking the pro life community in Ireland who had “rallied to sign up to the One of Us campaign despite a very difficult year” Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute said the initiative was “a superb example of grassroots activism”.

Volunteers collecting signatures from Ireland for One of Us

Volunteers collecting signatures from Ireland for One of Us

She praised young volunteers who had encouraged people to sign, and commended former MEP Dana Rosemary Scallon, saying her experience in joining pro-life leaders at a pan-European level was invaluable during the initiative, as was the work done by Ireland’s United for Life in gathering thousands of signatures.

One of Us aims to reaffirm that every human embryo is “One of Us”, that he or she shares our humanity. The initiative asks the EU to end the financing of activities which destroys the human embryos.

Both Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI have endorsed the campaign.

The initiative was begun by Italian MEP and President of the Italian Pro life movement, Carlo Casini, and registered with the European Commission on 11th May 2012.

It gained strength from a 2011 European Court of Justice ruling in the case of Brüstle vs. Greenpeace which affirmed that the human embryo is protected under EU law.

The Court’s decision laid down a definition of the human embryo as meaning “any human ovum after fertilisation, any non-fertilised human ovum into which the cell nucleus from a mature human cell has been transplanted, and any non-fertilised human ovum whose division and further development have been stimulated by parthenogenesis”. 

The ruling banned patenting any stem-cell process that involves destroying a human embryo.

“Faced with the commodification and annihilation of the human embryo, One of Us affirms the dignity and the humanity of human life, from its beginning,” said Mr Puppinck.

He thanked the European Commission for its “effective support and assistance” during the collection of signatures and also paid tribute to the European Christian Churches.

“It is a source of joy and hope to see the Catholic, Orthodox and Protestants Churches united for the promotion of the common good.”

As of now, the national authorities in each member state have three months to certify the final number of valid signatures collected. Within three months, the European Commission and Parliament will both meet the organisers of the campaign to discuss in detail the issues raised in the initiative.

Afterwards the European Commission will adopt a formal response presenting the action it proposes in response to the initiative.

The Commission is not obliged to propose legislation, however, if it does put forward a legislative proposal in response to One of Us, this will be submitted “through the usual legislative process”, Dr Puppinck said.

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