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Regulator approves creation of human-animal hybrids

17 January 2008

The UK fertility regulator has approved the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos for research. King's College London and Newcastle University are to receive one-year licences from the HFEA. [BBC, 17 January] John Smeaton, SPUC national director, said: "The decision represents a disastrous setback for human dignity in Britain. The deliberate blurring of the boundaries between humans and other species is wrong and strikes at the heart of what makes us human. It is creating a category of beings regarded as sub-human who can be used as raw material to benefit other members of the human family, effectively creating a new class of slaves. Although we cannot be certain of the nature of such embryos, those produced with a preponderance of human DNA would in all probability, according to experts, be human beings with human characteristics and capacities. By using animal eggs, such embryos could be generated in much greater numbers than if human eggs were used, leading to much greater loss of life." [SPUC, 17 January] Scientists at London and Sheffield universities, England, have been growing human embryo cells on the backs of pigs' eyes in the hope of treating macular degeneration in people. [Telegraph, 16 January]

The European parliament has voted for sexual and reproductive health and rights for children. MEPs approved Towards an EU strategy on the rights of the child, a report on children's rights by the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs. One of the report's articles calls: "... for Member States to ensure that all children and adolescents in and out of school are provided with tailored and comprehensive scientific information on sexual and reproductive health in order to make informed choices on issues related to their personal well-being, including the prevention of [sexually transmitted infections] and HIV/AIDS." Patrick Buckley of European Life Network said: "This is yet another step in the attempt by anti life politicians and powerful international organizations to impose their will on all European nations. The report is a cyanide cocktail. It has many palatable aspects but it is laced with all the trappings of the culture of death which has plagued Europe for some years. There is not, and never can be, a right to abortion. The sooner our children are protected from the anti-life propaganda that passes as sexual and reproductive health education the better."

Lord Alton of Liverpool has raised the question of adopted children's birth records in connection with the UK government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill. Lord Alton's comments were prompted by the recent case of a pair of twins who, having been adopted separately, married, unaware that they were siblings. The marriage has been annulled by the high court. Critics of the bill have warned that it will make it more difficult for children to discover the identities of their biological parents. "There will be more cases like this if children are not given access to the truth. The needs of the child must always be paramount," Lord Alton said. [Telegraph, 11 January] The Catholic bishops of Scotland are expected to call for free vote in parliament on the bill. An internet-based source suggests that Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow is writing to parishes and mentioning how some countries have banned human cloning. [LifeSite, 16 January]

About three fifths of Italy's gynaecologists refuse to participate in abortion, according to Dr Mauro Buscaglia, an abortionist reported in the Corriere della Sera newspaper. [Catholic World News, 15 January]

A woman who was left with only half an ovary after cancer treatment, and had been told she would never have children, gave birth to a son at Stafford Hospital, England, last month. [Sentinel, 14 January]

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