General Articles

European Christian Party Abandons Pro-Life and Pro-Family Positions

Susan Yoshihara and Katharina Rothweiler, C-FAM 

(NEW YORK – C-FAM) The European Parliament’s largest umbrella group backed away from its strong pro-life and pro-family positions in a new draft position statement for the 2009 European elections. Members of the mainly Christian Democrat group pushed back last week with a host of amendments aimed at restoring the organization’s traditional role of safeguarding human life and the family at the European Parliament.

In a position statement released in January entitled "Draft EPP Election Document 2009," the European People’s Party (EPP) removed some bedrock principles supporting traditional marriage and human life found in their 2004 position statement. The EPP is the largest group in the European Parliament with 288 members from 74 coalition parties, primarily Christian Democrat Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). Members of the EPP will use the final version of the statement in the course of campaigning in the upcoming continent-wide elections, scheduled for the 4th through 7th of June.

According to the IONA Institute, an Ireland-based pro-life and pro-family non-governmental organization, the EPP dropped explicit opposition to "euthanasia, eugenics, human cloning" which it opposed in its 2004 statement, while retaining language defending "human life in all its forms (including embryos) and at all stages; to respect the human dignity in medical and genetic advancements." Similarly, the 2004 EPP document urged the European Union (EU) not to fund "biotechnological practices that are illegal to Member states," such as the current practice of the EU to fund embryonic stem-cell research.

The EPP’s 2009 statement is also weaker on the protection of the traditional family, IONA says. Whereas the 2004 document pointed to the institution of marriage as a "unique tie of man and woman," the phrase was deleted from the 2009 draft text. Conversely, in its discussion of the “demographic winter” in Europe — a graying population having too few children — the new text adds a proposal that EU member states change national policies to recognize "the growing diversity in family relationships," a phrase conservatives warn can be interpreted to include homosexual "marriage."

National parties represented in the EPP have submitted proposed amendments to the text. A copy of proposed amendments obtained by the Friday Fax aims at restoring the strong pro-life and pro-family language deleted since the 2004 EPP statement. For example, one party proposes restoring references to protecting human dignity through a proper understanding of subsidiarity, a principle whereby decisions are made at the level closest to those affected by policy, and not by unaccountable bureaucrats and committees in Brussels.

Another proposed amendment focuses on replacing secular-humanist language in the 2009 text with explicit reference to Europe’s Judeo-Christian heritage, arguing that while "there are of course other philosophical and political trends in Europe," it is through the Christian Democrats that "the Christian inspiration [of European culture] must be declared."

Final approval of text is scheduled for March 29th in Warsaw. Given the venue, the role of the Polish MEPs is thought to be pivotal and they are expected to lobby for a return to strong pro-life and pro-family statements.