News reports

Human Tissue and Embryo Bill

The new draft Human Tissue and Embryo Bill will permit Parliament to undertake the most wide-ranging review carried out for many years of the law on abortion and the status of the human embryo. The Government intends to introduce this after the Queen's Speech in the Autumn.

The Bill would allow scientists to create a variety of animal-human hybrid and chimera embryos for experimental purposes (clause 17).

The Bill proposes that the Reproductive Cloning Act 2001, which banned reproductive cloning, be repealed and replaced by something far less clear cut (clause 16, para 15.5); and that in addition to the two million human embryos destroyed or experimented upon since 1990, further experimentation would be permitted with no requirement to use alternatives (eg adult stem cells) where they exist.

The Bill would create 'state-sponsored fatherlessness' by allowing children to be born who will be denied a father or knowledge of their father throughout their entire childhood; Clause 51(1) ". no man is to be treated as the father of the child."

The Bill would create a new authority, the Regulatory Authority for Tissues and Embryos (RATE) with no corresponding initiative to create a body such as a National Bio-Ethics Council to consider the ethics of what is permitted.

The Bill would permit, because of its wide scope, amendments on almost any aspect of our abortion legislation, including extending abortion to Northern Ireland and allowing abortions to be performed by nurses and midwives without any input from a doctor.

At a public meeting on the 5th Sept 2007, the Human Fertilisation and Embryo Authority (HFEA), based on the findings of a public consultation, has decided that there is no fundamental reason to prevent cytoplasmic hybrid research. Two research teams have submitted applications and if the HFEA decide that these projects are both necessary and desirable then a decision to grant a licence will probably be made in November 2007.

810 people responded to this consultation; 527 of these were against granting licenses for cytoplasmic hybrids and only 160 in favour. The rest were either not sure or did not respond. For pure animal-human hybrids the figures were even stronger, 550 against and only 114 in favour.

The HFEA has backed animal-human hybrid research in principle when it has no clear mandate for doing so in law and when Parliament is about to bring legislative clarity to the controversial issue.

It is imperative that when this Bill comes before Parliament in the Autumn Members of both Houses know that people do care very deeply about these issues.

Arrange NOW for a group of four or six of your friends to go to a meeting as soon as possible with your MP at his or her constituency office, to discuss the above proposals. This can be easily set up with his or her secretary.

In addition to this you could get as many of your friends as possible to write now to their MPs at the House of Commons, Westminster, London, SW1A 0AA. The purpose is to have thousands of letters expressing opposition to the Human Tissue and Embryo (Draft) Bill sent to MPs.

Please Pray & Act Now!


A note about Trumpet Call

Trumpet Call is the campaigning arm of the Maranatha Community, 102 Irlam Road, Flixton, Manchester, M41 6JT.
email: Tel: +44(0)161 748 4858 Fax: +44(0)161 747 7379

Trumpet Call 19/09/2007 17:16

Editor 25/02/2008 19:57
There is an email petition on the Downing Street website at the moment asking Gordon Brown to allow his MPs a free vote on the contentious issues in the Human Fertilisation and Embryos Bill?

CARE is urging all Christians to sign and also to write to the PM. Is this something you feel you could publicise? The petition can be seen at:
Church of Scotland (Guest) 04/04/2008 19:20
National church has “grave concerns” that hybrid embryos have been created

C of S says ‘a line that should not be crossed’ has been broken

The Church of Scotland regrets that our colleagues in the University of Newcastle are reported to have recently generated human-animal hybrid embryos consisting of cow eggs injected with human DNA. The Church expresses its disquiet that, following the issuing of a licence by the HFEA (Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority), this work has been carried out. It is especially regrettable as a bill considering the legalisation of just such research is currently working its way through Parliament. The Church also notes that, although the current legislation (The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990) does not explicitly prohibit the generation of such embryos, this act did not envisage such work.

The Church of Scotland has been closely involved in debate over the issues of human fertilisation and embryology over many years – both through the former Board of Social Responsibility and through the continuing Society, Religion and Technology (SRT) Project, now part of the Church and Society Council. In this and in other areas, the Church values meaningful dialogue with scientific experts, politicians and members of the general public.

To restate the position of the Church of Scotland, in 2006, the General Assembly, in response to the latest report within the Church on the subject, decided to:

"Oppose the creation for research or therapy of parthenogenetic human embryos, animal-human hybrid or chimeric embryos, or human embryos that have been deliberately made non-viable.

It positively sought to:

“urge Her Majesty’s Government to encourage research into stem cells derived from adult tissues and placental cord blood, and to work to find therapeutic solutions which avoid embryo use."

The 2007 General Assembly re-emphasised its opposition to the creation of these embryos, seeking to:

"Freshly urge Her Majesty’s Government in the proposed revision of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act not to include a legislative provision which would allow the creation for research or therapy of parthenogenetic human embryos, animal-human hybrid or chimeric embryos or embryos that have been deliberately made non-viable."

Having previously stated that the creation of human- animal hybrids is “a line which should not be crossed”, that this line appears to have been traversed is a matter of grave concern to the Church.

The church also notes with unease that the debate on what is inevitably a controversial area often appears to be portrayed as one of “scientists versus the church”. This false dichotomy, and the emotive terms sometimes deployed, are to be regretted. The Church has also made the point on previous occasions that the claim that to deny such experiments would delay cures for terminal illnesses is irresponsible and unjustified. The Church welcomes vigorous and informed debate, and reiterates its view that all scientific endeavour must be properly ethically informed.

Church of Scotland Press Office