SPUC challenges MPs to come clean on cloning
10 November 2000
SPUC challenges MPs to come clean on cloning Westminster, 10 November 2000--In the run-up to next week's House of Commons adjournment debate on human cloning, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has challenged MPs to explain their position on the moral status of the human embryo. In separate letters to those MPs who either supported Evan Harris's recent 10-minute rule bill to authorise research on cloned human embryos, or who failed to register any vote, John Smeaton, national director of SPUC, writes: "A fully grown adult is genetically identical to the one-day old embryo from which he or she grew, whether created through fertilisation or via a cloning technique. However, pro-cloning scientists seem to confuse the genetic identity of the human embryo with its physical appearance, size, etc. How can we give ethical and legal approval to so-called therapeutic cloning when its promoters are unsure of the identity and nature of the embryo?" Mr Smeaton observes in his letter that the European parliament has accused pro-cloning scientists of using "linguistic sleight of hand to erode the moral significance of human cloning" [7 September 2000]. He asks why these same scientists dismiss the already proven potential of adult stem cells as an ethical alternative to those derived from embryos. Mr Smeaton challenges the MPs to reveal their position on this fundamental issue before the government's own proposals to authorise research on cloned embryos are voted on, probably before the new year. Dr Evan Harris's bill to authorise research on cloned human embryos for so-called therapeutic purposes was rejected in the House of Commons on 31 October by 175 votes to 83. The adjournment debate on the subject is planned for 17 November, and a vote in both houses of parliament on a statutory instrument which would authorise research into so-called therapeutic cloning is expected before the end of this calendar year.