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SPUC condemns report of the Joint Committee into the government’s Human Tissue and Embryos (Draft) Bill

1 August 2007

SPUC condemns report of the Joint Committee into the government’s Human Tissue and Embryos (Draft) Bill Westminster, 1 August 2007 - The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has condemned the report of the House of Lords/House of Commons Joint Committee on the Human Tissue and Embryos (Draft) Bill, published today SPUC highlighted a number of the report's proposals for criticism: * Wide areas of embryo research to be exempt from licensing * Unprecedented new power for the regulatory authority * Much wider permission for inter-species embryo creation than in the draft bill * Broader grounds for creation of 'saviour sibling' embryos * Support for weakening of the law against so-called reproductive cloning. Paul Tully, General Secretary of SPUC said: 'The Joint Committee on the draft Human Tissue and Embryos Bill has called for whole areas of research involving human embryos to be exempt from requiring licenses, stripping away even the vestige of oversight currently required in the exploitation of embryonic human beings. 'They call for the regulator (the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority - HFEA) to have power to exempt whole areas of research from the need for a license (paragraph 56). In these areas, scientists would have total freedom to create, manipulate and destroy any number of human embryos. 'In addition, today's report form the Joint Committee says that if Parliament agrees to the creation of inter-species embryos, a wide power for the creation and use of such human-animal hybrids and chimeras should be given. Once again, the regulator would have extensive powers. 'Furthermore, the committee recommends that the regulator (the HFEA) - not the courts or Parliament - should have the power to interpret the definition of "inter-species" embryos. (Paragraph 178) 'In summary, the report is good news for ethically insensitive researchers, would-be cloners and other maverick scientists. It is bad news for IVF embryos and for the idea that law should have an ethical framework' concluded Mr Tully. Longer commentary

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