The Christian Institute

News Release

Lords to vote on embryos, fatherhood and abortion

The House of Lords will vote on the controversial Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Bill on 15 and 21 January. Key votes are expected on the creation of animal-human hybrid embryos and so-called ‘saviour siblings’. Other votes will decide whether to remove the requirement to consider a child’s ‘need for a father’ in IVF referrals, and whether to repeal the law which allows abortion up to birth for reason of ‘serious handicap’.

Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute, said: “The Bill subordinates the rights of the human embryo, a human being at its earliest and most vulnerable stage, to the rights of the adults it depends on for its survival. At its worst, it substitutes what is right for what is practical.

“Scientists hope to use animal-human hybrid embryos as a source of stem cells for medical research. Yet after more than a decade of work, no successful treatments have been developed from embryonic stem cells. Meanwhile, the use of adult stem cells has produced significant benefits for patients, with over 70 treatments being developed. In addition, recent advances have opened the way for the creation of cells which mimic embryonic stem cells without destroying human embryos. The measures in the Bill appear to be behind the times.

“Allowing the screening of embryos to avoid certain abnormalities and for so-called ‘saviour siblings’ treats children as commodities rather than human beings with inherent worth.

“The Bill also seeks to change the status and value of fatherhood. Under the current law doctors must consider a child’s ‘need for a father’ when providing IVF treatment. But the Bill removes this requirement. This sidelines fathers and dismisses the weight of evidence which clearly shows the crucial role a father plays in a child’s development. We support the retention of the requirement.

“We support changing the law which allows abortion up to birth in the case of ‘serious handicap’. This law has been abused over the years to allow the destruction of unborn babies for treatable conditions such as a cleft palette or a club foot. In a society which embraces fair treatment for the disabled, this outrageous difference of treatment should not be allowed to continue.”