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Defending life from the moment of conception

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80% want to see more debate on embryo bill

15 May 2008

An opinion survey suggests that four fifths of the British public want more parliamentary debate on the HFE bill. A ComRes poll of 1,000 respondents for Comment on Reproductive Ethics found that people thought the three hours allowed for discussion of animal-human hybrid embryos was inadequate. [The Times, 13 May] The Catholic Bishop of Paisley, Scotland, wants more attention paid to human embryos' moral status. Rt Rev Philip Tartaglia points out that 10 years of human embryo research has yielded nothing useful. [Herald, 14 May]

The HFE bill would allow cloned humans to be born, according to several academics. A letter to a newspaper points out that the bill repeals the 2001 Human Reproductive Cloning Act. Signatories include Professor David Albert Jones, professor of bioethics, St Mary's University College, Twickenham, Professor John Keown, professor of Christian ethics, Georgetown University, Professor John Haldane, director of the centre for ethics, philosophy and public affairs, University of St Andrews, Professor Janet E Smith, chair of life ethics, Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit, and Dr Gregory K Pike, director, Southern Cross Bioethics Institute, Adelaide, South Australia. [Telegraph, 13 May]

British MPs have allowed the government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) bill to advance to its next stage, with 81% of those who voted backing the proposed law. Ms Geraldine Smith MP of the ruling Labour party expressed revulsion at the bill's proposals to allow hybrids and saviour siblings. Mr Gary Streeter MP, Conservative, pointed out that embryo-research had not produced any therapies. [BBC, 12 May] Paul Tully of SPUC said: "This result is very disturbing. In the debate [on Monday] we heard yet more promises of therapies that could come from such research. In 1990 we were told that breakthroughs were imminent and yet nothing has been achieved save the destruction of countless human embryos." [12 May] SPUC supporters are urging MPs to oppose pro-abortion amendments to the bill which is back in the Commons on Monday and Tuesday. [13 May]

SPUC delivered a 45,400-signature petition to parliament opposing the HFE bill. The document said: "The Petitioners ... request that the House of Commons vote against the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, and urge the Government to change its policy towards endorsing the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos in the laboratory; the widening of the scope for experiments on human embryos, and the creation of human embryos for other purposes without regard for the welfare and status of such embryos." Mr David Burrowes, Conservative MP for Enfield Southgate, presented the petition to the House of Commons. [SPUC, 12 May]

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