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Power to the People: 1.7 Million European Citizens have their pro-life voice heard before the European Court of Justice

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The Christian Legal Centre has this week been involved in defending the preborn child at EU level. CLC's Standing Counsel, Paul Diamond, argued that the European Commission was wrong to refuse to introduce the One of Us initiative for debate at the European Parliament. Roger Kiska reports. 

Much has been made of the perceived democratic deficit in Europe which led in part to Brexit; as well as to earlier failed EU Constitutional referendums in France and the Netherlands. When Europe faced its Constitutional crisis, it created the European Citizens Initiative (ECI) to allow citizens a direct means of participating in the democratic and legislative process. If more than 1 million European citizens lent their support, within a year, to a proposed legislative initiative that fell within the competency of the European Union, the European Commission would then be obliged to send the proposal to the European Parliament and begin the legislative process towards possible adoption as a new EU law.

This is exactly what was done by the One of Us ECI. In fact, it far exceeded the thresholds set by the EU regulation for ECI's becoming the most supported ECI in European Union history with more than 1.7 million signatures. What makes this ECI special, apart from its historic level of support, is that the One of US ECI proposed legislation on behalf of the unborn child. The two main proposals set forth in the ECI were to prohibit EU funding of any research which requires the destruction of the human embryo and to prevent EU money from being used to support abortions abroad.

Given that the European Union has acknowledged that abortion is not a competency within the treaty power granted to it, the ECI would in reality achieve what should already be hard EU law. Yet, in a move which personifies the perceived democratic deficit in Europe, the European Commission (a body not directly elected by the people which yields a vastly disproportionate amount of power in Europe) decided that the One of US ECI was politically inconvenient. It therefore drafted a poorly reasoned and often times factually incorrect communication back to the One of Us organisers laying out its reasons for not sending the proposals to the Parliament for debate. Among the more audacious reasons given by the Commission were that the issue of the dignity of the unborn child was already dealt with in EU primary legislation and therefore did not need to be legislated further. Clearly the fact that the EU spends vast sums of money funding overseas abortions and embryonic stem cell research suggests that the primary legislation has not exactly done its job. Another reason it felt it unnecessary to send the legislation to the Parliament was because it felt that its existing laws promoting abortion were already well debated and thought out and it did not see the need to make any changes. This answer has double effect: it not only tells 1.7 million Europeans that their voice absolutely does not matter to them despite the ECI regulation; it also tolls a death knell for democratic integrity in Europe.

Thankfully these citizens and democracy herself refuse to go down without a fight. And on Tuesday, May 16th they got one as the matter was held before an extended composition of judges at the Court of Justice of the European Union. One of Us, and the 1.7 million strong, were represented by Standing Counsel for the Christian Legal Centre Paul Diamond and myself. Among the many highlights of the hearing was a statement by the European Commission's legal representative that short of saying that the moon was inhabited by people, any response from the Commission rejecting a successfully supported ECI would be sufficient to keep the matter from being debated by the Parliament.

With all due respect to the man on the moon we disagree. Mr. Diamond made a bold plea to the Tribunal saying that the very fate of the ECI as a democratic instrument and the will of the millions of citizens who have to date lent their voice to them, was in their hands. Much hangs in the balance regarding the outcome of this case. We pray, on behalf of the unborn children whose lives would be saved by the adoption of the ECI proposals, and we stand with the masses who lent their support to them during this process. As Franklin D. Roosevelt, the American President whose term spanned most of World War II, once noted: "Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us." We can only hope the Court of Justice of the European Union agrees with this sentiment.

Related Links: 
EU wrong to ignore pro-life initiative, ECJ will hear 
Baby-killing industry frightened by 'One of Us' 
Roger Kiska: 'March' for Life 


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