Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill

This Bill goes before the Lords today, here's what the CARE website has to say:

Currently there are three major problems with the bill.
The bill will allow the creation of embryos for research which are part human and part animal. This is to further the human embryonic stem cell project in the absence of sufficient human eggs. It is an extremely morally questionable undertaking which will bridge the barrier between animal and human DNA. Furthermore it is a distraction from adult stem cell research which has to date given rise to over 70 therapies whilst human embryonic stem cell research has given rise to none.

Second the Bill will legalise the creation of ‘saviour siblings’. This
means that IVF embryos will be screened to enable a child to be born who
genetically matches a sick person within the family. They can then provide a
supply of body tissue to be used for treating the sibling. Quite apart from the
fact that any embryos that don’t have the right genetic match must be discarded,
facilitating the creation of saviour siblings raises questions about
psychological and physical harm. What are the implications for a child who knows
they were brought into the world to save a sick relative? It suggests that they
are a means to an end. What are the physical implications of having to provide
tissue or even heart organs?

Finally, the Bill proposes that IVF clinics will no longer need to consider 'the need of the child for a father' when considering a treatment application. The Bill also prevents children conceived by IVF to a same sex couple from having a father from before their birth until they reach adulthood, when they will only be able to find out the identity of the father

I'm struggling to think of a single instance where the bioethics law has been
tightened, rather than liberalised, at a later date. It's therefore
reasonable to assume that there will be future legislation, looking for
even more scope to create animal-human hybrids (in an excercise in
Newspeak the lobbyists for the bill are trying to rename these 'human admixed' embryos).

We can't afford to let science (and don't assume this is 'pure' science - there's no such thing. There is lots of money to be made here, and lots of prestige attached to being at the cutting edge of these things) set our moral boundaries for us according to what is technologically possible.

"it is equally clear that knowledge of what is does not open the door directly to what should be." (Einstein) . Just because we can do it doesn't mean that we should. History is littered with tragic examples of the times we have violated this principle. In issues as fundamental as what makes us human, Christians have to make their voices heard, and scientists need to listen.

No comments:

Post a Comment