ROME, April 15, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – This year’s National March for Life (Marcia per la Vita) in Rome is coinciding with an international effort to have the European Union ban funding for embryo research and declare that all human beings have a right to life “from the dawn of conception”.
Joseph Meaney, Director of International Coordination at the Rome office of Human Life International, told LifeSiteNews.com that events like the Marcia per la Vita are crucial for promoting the political cause for life in Europe in an atmosphere where the media has largely ignored the issue.
“European pro-lifers have picked up on the way the annual March for Life energizes the movement in the USA. Many leaders attended the DC march and decided to do the same in their home countries,” he said.
Enthusiasm for the march in Rome, as in other European capitals, is growing. Last year, even organizers were surprised by the turnout for Rome’s march when 15,000 showed up, three times the expected number.
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As with the March for Life in Washington, the Rome event is revealing the strong pro-life position of many younger Italians, who attended in huge numbers last May. The event is also supported by a growing number of Christian lay associations as well as medical groups including the Italian Gynecologists and Obstetricans, the Catholic Union of Pharmacists and the Italian Association of Catholic Doctors.
The May 12th Marcia per la Vita is accompanied this year by the “One of Us” campaign, which has the goal of bringing about a total ban on funding for abortion and embryo research at the European Union.
“One of Us” was launched last year in Rome at the continental level by representatives of the Movements for Life of twenty countries of the European Union. It is represented in Italy by the Italian Catholic bishops’ conference, CEI, and the Family Forum, various healthcare associations and groups of Catholic doctors and pro-life and Catholic lay groups.
The One of Us petition states, “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.”
The campaign needs to collect 1 million signatures by the date of the march in Rome. [Sign the petition.]
Meaney told LSN that events like the Marcia per la Vita have a beneficial effect on pro-life activists: “They raise the spirits of the participants who rarely get a chance to be in a large crowd of like-minded people.”
The issue is an immediate and crucial one for Italy, where the overall fertility rate has crept up only slightly from a historic low of 1.3 children born per woman to 1.41, a rate that demographers warn will spell economic disaster within 50 years if it is not improved. Low birth rates also mean an aging population; in 2012, the median age for Italian women was 45 years. Deaths outpace births in Italy, with 9.06 births per 1,000 population compared to 9.93 deaths.