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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Lords should reject 3-parent embryo regulations UK "are the pioneers of abuses of unborn children"

24 February 2015

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has called on members of the House of Lords is to reject the so-called "three-parent" embryo regulations being debated in the upper chamber today. The procedure is said to be necessary to help families affected by rare mitochondrial diseases.

These regulations (the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Mitochondrial Donation) Regulations) are designed to usher in the cloning of human embryos. The manipulation of the human germ line would be permitted for the first time, contrary to modern international biomedicine agreements and long-standing ethical principles.

Commenting on the background to today's debate, Paul Tully, SPUC's general secretary, said:

"The 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act was not intended to permit human cloning, and so the alteration of germ-line genetic material was forbidden. The restrictions have been repeatedly weakened, however, and this is a further stage in dismantling the so-called safeguards of the embryology law.

"It is often supposed that the objection to germ-line modification is that it will lead to the creation of either 'monsters' or super-humans. Neither outcome is likely. Instead, many embryos will die in the efforts to restructure their genetic make-up."

Mr Tully continued: "The reality is that we know far too little about mitochondria to know what impact the cloning process would have on mitochondrial disease. It is true that the mitochondria carry very few genes but scores of other genes needed by mitochondria are stored in the cell nucleus. Transferring the nucleus of an ovum or an embryo to another cell cannot be predicted to have any certain benefit.

"The proponents of embryo research have repeatedly held out promises of cures and medical advances in the field of inherited conditions. But the benefits have always failed to materialise, and we suspect that the same is happening again here. The parents of children affected by mitochondrial disease are being exploited to support unethical experiments, based on the false hope that their children will benefit.

"Legislators have been consistently misled in the past about the prospects of success and the future intentions of those who want to use the tiniest humans - human embryos - for experiments. They should reject today's proposals." concluded Mr Tully.

Paul Tully, SPUC's general secretary, can be contacted on 07939 178719 or 020 7820 3127. SPUC's communications department can be contacted on:

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