Religious MPs get free vote on hybrid embryos
Brown compromises following Church pressure
An Easter of intense religious lobbying has forced Gordon Brown to allow a free vote on whether the law should be changed to allow new research on embryos and stem cells.
The Catholic Church used its louder voice at this time of year to launch a co-ordinated campaign against the new fertilisation and embryology bill, particularly hybrid embryos, which it described as "monstrous". The presence in the Cabinet of hardline Christians such as transport secretary Ruth Kelly threatened an embarrassing split over the ethics of stem cell research.
Downing Street now says Labour MPs will be allowed to vote with their personal conscience on three aspects of the proposed legislation. The free votes in will cover relaxing IVF research rules, allowing hybrid embryos and so-called "saviour siblings" (parents could select an embryo with compatible bone marrow to help an existing sick child, for example).
The Prime Minister said that if the Commons votes in favour of the three strands then all Labour MPs will then be expected to approve the bill in its entirety.
Scientists argue that the new legislation is needed to advance treatments for a raft of conditions including Parkinson's and spinal injury. It's hoped that hybrid embryos will provide a ready supply of stem cells that are more than 99 per cent human, yet do not rely on the trickle of human eggs left over from IVF treatment.
Hybrids are created by injecting human DNA into empty animal eggs, usually sourced from cows. The bill would insist that embryos are destroyed.
Speaking at the launch of Labour's local government election campaign, Brown said: "I do believe that in stem cell research we have the power in the future to treat and to cure some of the diseases that have afflicted mankind for centuries."
"The bill itself cannot be subject to a free vote because there are so many other changes that I believe are necessary as part of building up the research framework of our country and, of course, creating the right ethical framework for the development of embryo research."
A letter signed by 200 medical charities has been sent to every MP explaining why they believe the new regulations are necessary. In January the Human Fertility and Embryology Authority approved the first experiments on hybrids under existing legislation. ®
@Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse
"...the freedom to vote on this issue based on their own beliefs rather than being "supervised" by the party whip."
I accept your point, But when beliefs are based on superstition and not rationale, I beg to differ.
@The coward.. Chill out.
"Are you in favour of continuing the experiments of Josef Mengele et al in the concentration camps?"
A bunch of cells does not breathe, feel or think nor does it have any sense of self. This is a ridiculous comparison.
"Every human being -- religious, agnostic or atheistic -- makes moral judgements every day of their lives, and we are all well within our rights to do so."
I agree with you entirely, however that judgment should be restricted to ones own actions and not forced on others who may not share those same morals.
I do not want the superstitious deciding what is right and wrong and inflicting the rules of an illogical and irrational belief system on my actions, rights or anything else for that matter.
I do not harass my christian church going neighbors, who are constantly leafleting my house with jesus propaganda. Nor do I try to force my views upon them. I respect their rights to live their lives however they wish, and resist my strong desire to re-educate them.
Re Hybrids won't help
All that's being proposed is producing human stem cells from say human skin cells inserted into an animal egg..An egg with most of the animal DNA removed.
Not really a hybrid in my opinion. I think the scientists have shot themselves in the foot by using the word.
"I hope they get Alzheimer's"
They probably *will*, as science has cured so many of the other things that would send a fellow to his grave.
Bah, tiny cell-balls aren't people. They're lost every single day in vivo and nobody even notices.