Pro-life leader: Report decrying ‘religious extremist funders’ should spur Catholics to defend life

CNA Staff   By CNA Staff

_Nezemnaya_ (CC BY-ND 2.0).

Brussels, Belgium, Jun 25, 2021 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

A pro-life leader has said that a report alleging that “religious extremists” are seeking “to roll back human rights in sexuality and reproduction” in Europe should spur Catholics to do more to defend life.

John Martin, executive vice president for mission advancement at Human Life International (HLI), made the comment in response to a report issued by the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights (EPF).

The EPF report, “Tip of the Iceberg: Religious Extremist Funders against Human Rights for Sexuality and Reproductive Health in Europe 2009-2018,” lists HLI, which is based in Front Royal, Virginia, as one of more than 50 “anti-gender actors operating in Europe.”

“As we work around the world to defend the sanctity of human life and the dignity of marriage and the family, we are keenly aware of how internationally focused organizations like the EU, or UN and OAS [Organization of American States] exert extreme pressure on countries to subvert their pro-life and pro-life family laws,” Martin said.

“Unashamedly, affluent Western countries that fund these organizations use their wealth, power, and influence to foist their anti-life, anti-family, and population control agendas on the developing world, exploiting their life-loving and family values.”

He continued: “Reading this document from the EPF, I am heartened to see all of the organizations standing with Human Life International, committed to promote, protect, and defend human life and our families from the colonization of Western ideology.”

“In solidarity with the unborn and families around the world, we must continue to respond to the passionate call to arms by Pope St. John Paul II, calling all Catholics and people of goodwill to a ‘great campaign in support of life.’”

The EPF report claims that the Ordo Iuris Institute for Legal Culture in Poland is among the groups “behind some of the most reactionary and highest profile recent anti-gender initiatives” in Europe.

Karolina Pawłowska, director of the Ordo Iuris International Law Center in the Polish capital, Warsaw, described the report as “a very symptomatic example of ongoing attacks on organizations defending fundamental human rights by the radical left.”

She said: “What is striking is that they never answer to any substantive and legal arguments. Instead of that, they are focusing on spreading manipulative and fake information. This is because the facts and treaties are not on their side.”

Pawłowska said that members of the European Parliament voted against a proposal on June 24 to remove Ordo Iuris and similar groups from the EU’s transparency register, a database that lists organizations seeking to influence EU institutions.

“Fortunately, their attempts to censor us failed,” she commented. “Yesterday over 400 MEPs voted against the proposal to add to the resolution postulate of erasing us and other likeminded NGOs from the EU transparency register.”

The EPF report was written by the group’s secretary, Neil Datta, who founded the network of parliamentarians in Europe in the year 2000.

On its website, the EPF says that its donors include the International Planned Parenthood Foundation (IPPF), the Georges Soros-founded Open Society Foundations, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Nike Foundation, and the UNFPA.

The report was released on June 15, days before a critical European Parliament vote on abortion.

The EU’s law-making body voted June 24 in favor of a report describing abortion as “essential healthcare” and seeking to redefine conscientious objection as a “denial of medical care.”

Members of the European Parliament voted in favor of a text, known as the Matić Report, describing abortion as “essential healthcare” and seeking to redefine conscientious objection as a “denial of medical care.”

Christian groups believe that the EPF report’s intention is to exclude them from European political life by presenting them as a threat to the EU’s values.

Earlier this week, another group mentioned in the report, ADF International, suggested that the text was part of a “targeted smear campaign.”

Adina Portaru, who serves as senior counsel, Europe, for ADF International, said: “ADF International is a human rights organization that protects the fundamental freedoms and promotes the inherent dignity of all people.”

“We defend persecuted religious minorities across the globe and support the right to life. Our ‘Vanishing Girls’ campaign in southeast Asia, for example, defends girls against sex-based discrimination both before as well as after birth.”

“All our work for clients is pro bono. We receive funds from private donors who believe in our vision.”

She continued: “While we support open debate and discussion on the topics related to our work, the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights (EPF) has sought to shut down conversations about human rights through a targeted smear campaign.”

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