The protection of life is a story of lights and shadows in Europe. If on one hand countries like France are now extending the right to abortion, others, like Spain, are working to limit it.
At the same time, the success of initiatives such as “One of Us” – a citizens’ initiative for the recognition of the rights of embryos and their non-destruction for purposes of scientific research – remind us that the “people of life” is anything but asleep.
ZENIT addressed these topics with Carlo Casini, president and founder of the Pro-Life Movement (MpV) and a Euro-parliamentarian.
ZENIT: The collection of signatures by “One of Us” was more successful than predicted. The underwritings having finished, what will be the next steps?
Casini: Last Dec. 11 we delivered the 1,896,000 signatures to the competent authorities of all the 28 countries. The European law establishes that within three months, the individual States must verify the validity of the signatures: on February 11, therefore, we will know the definitive result. Up to now the three countries that carried out this request have checked 90% of the valid signatures.
After February 11, the organizers of “One of Us” will meet first with the European Commission, then with the competent commissions of the European Parliament to explain the meaning of the initiative.
After which the European Commission will have to decide what to do. I am convinced that it will not be able to sit on its hands because it is a citizens’ initiative and it seems to me impossible that, precisely protected by the European elections, an initiative created to demonstrate that citizens count in Europe – hence, that there is democracy – will not be taken into consideration. At a time when there is much distrust of European institutions, a gesture of this sort would be suicide.
The most logical thing is that the European Commission adopt one or more laws that take into account this change and prohibit any financing for the destruction of human embryos.
After which we will launch the underwriting of three statements by three categories: 1) doctors, who affirm that scientifically the embryo is already a human being; 2) jurists, who will request that the principle of equality be applied also to the conceived; 3) politicians, given that the principle of every political action is service to the common good.
All the national committees have already decided to constitute a European Federation of Pro-Life Movements which will in fact be called “One of Us”. This too is not a secondary result.
ZENIT: How do you judge the draft law for the restriction of abortion in Spain?
Casini: The first Spanish law on abortion of 1985, that provided for the possibility [of abortion] in limited cases (rape, malformation of the fetus, danger for the mother’s health) kept low the number of pregnancy interruptions, about 40,000 a year. With the reforms in a more permissive sense of the subsequent years – in particular Zapatero’s law of 2010, which sanctioned the mother’s free choice – abortions rose to 110,000 a year.
The new law proposed by the Minister of Justice, Alberto Ruiz Gallardon, was criticized by feminists and many anti-abortionists who felt it was still too weak. They believe that it can be improved inserting, for instance, as in our Law 40, a clause that protects the embryo as a subject of law.
However, every innovation that reduces the evil is positive. The approval of this law is a symptom of an awakening of consciences in Europe, therefore this change is supported. To affirm, on the contrary, the absolute liberty of the woman is to approve the concept that the embryo is a “thing.”
ZENIT: In France, on the contrary, not only is there the desire to sanction the right to abortion, but there is a desire to sanction – even with prison – those who fight to impede it.
Casini: A fact such as this demonstrates once again how politics is important. There is a tendency to put the question of life outside of politics; to say that the real problems are others: unemployment, lack of development of the economy, etc. All just topics. But the defense of life is not a question that is less political and altogether other than “peripheral.” When there is a war, there are dead: the first thing to do is to stop it and to avoid these deaths. The same discourse applies when boats of immigrants arrive from the other shore of the Mediterranean: to avoid shipwrecks and deaths. Therefore, when it is said that the unborn child is one of us and we see that every year in the world there are millions of innocent victims, politics must have a voice in the Capitol.
I launch a cry of alarm also for Italy: be careful how you vote and what party you choose. If you love life, you can’t send persons to represent you who are against life.
In regard to France, it is necessary to do a series of actions of “enlightenment” and of resistance and, in this sense, it seems to me that there are positive signs: a presence of people has already begun resisting the Taubira law on homosexual marriage. Manif Pour Tous has filled the Squares as never before.
Also in regard to the right to life, this year’s Pro-Life March gathered more than 40,000 people in Paris: it means that there is an awakening of consciences. Good can also come from evil. I hope that France also – which seemed asleep on these topics – will witness an awakening and succeed in impeding that abortion is considered a right in this country.