Embryology Bill clears Parliament

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill has been agreed by Parliament and is awaiting Royal Assent before becoming law.

The House of Lords last night voted to accept the amendments put in by the House of Commons with no additional changes.

An attempt by pro-life Peer, Lord Alton of Liverpool, to limit research using animal-human embryos to cases where it could not be carried out in any other way was rejected by 202 votes to 39.

Lord Alton said: “We should not underestimate the phenomenal public unease about some of the provisions in this bill.”

The controversial Bill widens the law for more destructive experiments on human embryos. It allows the creation of embryos that are part animal and part human.

It permits the creation of ‘saviour siblings’ (genetically selected children who are created so that their tissue can be used to treat a sick brother or sister).

The Bill removes a law which required doctors to consider a child’s need for a father before referring a woman for IVF treatment.

Critics say the Bill focuses too much on unethical embryonic stem cell research while ethical alternatives – like adult stem cell research – are proving to be more successful.

Last week a leading adult stem cell scientist quit Britain because of the nation’s bias in favour of embryo research.

During the Bill’s passage through Parliament, politicians on both sides of the abortion debate tried to alter the law on abortion – but in the end the law remains unchanged.

Simon Calvert of The Christian Institute said: “This is surely one of the worst Bills to come out of Parliament in recent years.

“It erodes the sanctity of life and undermines families. Britain is now one of the most liberal nations in the world for human embryo experiments.

“If we truly want to develop treatments to relieve suffering, we should plough our resources into adult stem cell research. Not only is it ethical, it is more successful too.”

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