Like all members of the human family, the human embryo deserves respect. The HFE Act 2008 (which amends the earlier HFE Act 1990), further undermines the status of the embryo, and breaches international conventions upholding the right to life of all members of the human family.
The HFE Act, like the existing law, disregards the status of the embryo. It will permit new abuses of embryos and extend those already allowed. The HFE Act will extend the general scope of in vitro fertilisation (IVF), regarding it not only as a treatment for infertile couples, but for others who demand their purported "right" to have a child.
Instead of IVF as a last resort, it has now becomes a norm. Embryos become just things. The HFE act focuses on reproductive technology in which human reproduction is put at the service of those who demand it. At the same time the stress on the welfare of children born from IVF is weakened, with the removal of the reference to the child's need for a father.
Embryos may be used in experiments even if alternative ways of doing the research are possible. Embryo stem cell research remains far behind adult stem cell research in terms of results. No treatments are available using embryonic cells; seventy or more have been developed using adult stem cells, see, for example, www.stemcellresearch.org/facts/CheckTheScore.pdf
The act promotes the "saviour sibling" procedure. This is where a couple who have a disabled child undergo IVF in the hope of producing a baby who can be used as a tissue donor to treat the older sibling. However, most "saviour sibling" embryos are discarded or destroyed.
The embryology authority will be clearly empowered to licence the creation of cloned embryos for research. The bill also alters the way the law is framed to make it easier for parliament to permit cloned embryos to be transferred to the womb in future. Also, people who were never asked about such procedures could have embryos created using their DNA
Mixing human and animal gametes to create hybrid embryos is unethical. How can it be right to generate such embryos when there is no clear answer to the question "how should we treat them"?
Within the HFE Bill, some parliamentarians attempted
to widen the law on abortion. This could have led to more abortions and
there are already between 500 and 600 abortions every day.