Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Legal challenges to pre-emptive hybrid-making


From Christian Concern for our Nation: The Christian Legal Centre and Comment on Reproductive Ethics filed papers yesterday at the High Court seeking Judicial Review over the recent decision by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to grant licences to Newcastle University and King’s College London (Jan 9, 2008) to begin research into degenerative diseases using animal-human hybrids. Last week Newcastle University claimed to have created the first animal-human embryo.

The legal challenge has been filed on two grounds: that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 does not allow licensing of animal-human hybrid embryos, and in fact contains a prohibition on the creation of such embryos. Claimants therefore believe no licence can be granted by the HFEA and the HFEA acted beyond its powers. Secondly, even if the HFEA did have the power to grant a licence, the HFE Act 1990 provides that no licence can be granted unless (1) it appears to the HFEA that the licence for research is necessary or desirable for one of a number of specified purposes and (2) that the HFEA is satisfied that any proposed use of embryos is necessary for the purposes of the research.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, Barrister and Director of the Christian Legal
Centre which is bringing the action, together with Comment on Reproductive
Ethics said: “We believe the HFEA acted unlawfully in granting licences
permitting the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos. When the 1990 HFE Act
was passed it was quite clear that Parliament envisaged the embryo as human and
not 'animal-human'.

“The decisions to grant the licences were not justified in law in that the
proposed scientific techniques have been rendered ‘unnecessary’ and
‘undesirable’ by new technical advances; the proposed techniques do not work
and raise new scientific problems that will prevent any meaningful research
work. Most importantly, the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos is the
subject matter of a Bill before Parliament and the ethics, utility and limits
of such embryo research is presently the subject of Parliamentary debate. The
HFEA has pre-empted and usurped the will of Parliament.

“We also believe that the HFEA failed to take into account relevant factors,
namely bio-safety issues and/or the impact on the human genome of animal egg

The creation of animal-human hybrids is an attack on the innate dignity of what
it means to be human.

The Christian Legal Centre and Comment on Reproductive Ethics hopes that the
Court will revoke the licenses granted by the HFEA to Newcastle University and
King’s College London and order that no further experimentation is carried out.
Parliament will decide on this issue in the near future. Furthermore, the
thrust of science suggests this line of experimentation will not yield
satisfactory results.

Mrs Williams added: “It is also necessary for the Court to comment on the fact
that the 1990 Act said licences can only be granted when deemed necessary or
desirable. This is a legal and proper standard designed to safeguard and
protect the embryo. When other alternatives to such controversial research
already exist, then it cannot be claimed that such new research is either
necessary or desirable.”

No comments:

Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen