Wednesday, July 02, 2008

HFEA again anticipates hybrids bill

Action: please lobby your MP.

From Christian Concern for our Nation: A foreshadowing of the future: HFEA grants human-pig hybrid embryo licenceThe Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has recently granted alicence to the Clinical Sciences Research Institute, University of Warwick,which permits the creation of human-pig hybrid embryos for research purposes.

Although this licence—which takes effect today, July 1, 2008—is purportedlyenacted under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act of 1990, the realityis that the 1990 Act clearly does not allow the HFEA to grant such licences.The Christian Legal Centre, together with Comment on Reproductive Ethics, hasalready filed legal papers for a Judicial Review over the decisions earlierthis year by the HFEA to grant licences to Newcastle University and King’s College London for their research into degenerative diseases using animal-humanhybrids.

Furthermore, it is important to note that, even if the HFEA were granted thepower under the 1990 Act to grant licences for the creation of animal-humanhybrid embryos, the 1990 Act provides that no licences may be granted at allunless:

(1) the licence appears to be necessary or desirable for one of anumber of articulated purposes and

(2) the HFEA believes that the proposed useof embryos for research is necessary for the purposes of that research.

In this instance, the HFEA has most certainly failed to meet the 1990 Act’sstringent standards for granting licences, in as much as these licences forcreating animal-human hybrid embryos are neither “necessary” nor “desirable.”

Empirical evidence shows that no significant advances have been made inembryonic stem cell research. Better yet, great advances have been seen indisease treatment resulting from research on adult stem cells, umbilical cordblood cells, and induced pluripotent stem cells (stem cells reprogrammed tohave the essential characteristics of embryonic stem cells). While true that Parliament has recently passed legislation that might allow forthe granting of licences for human-pig hybrid embryo research, the 1990 Act did not.

Furthermore, it is clear that the HFEA cannot claim that controversialresearch on embryonic stem cells is either necessary or desirable when otherviable, non-controversial, and more successful alternatives exist.Ultimately, the HFEA’s unjustified action is particularly disturbing in light ofstatements made by Professor Justin St. John, the leading researcher on thisproject at the University of Warwick. He stated, “This new licence allows us toattempt to make human pig clones to produce embryonic stem cells.” When we aretalking about making human pig clones, we should lament the dulling of oursocial conscience that permits such embryos to exist.

This underscores thedeplorable state of bioethics in which the UK now finds itself with the harshreality of what the passage of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill2007/8 means for the UK.

Finally, there are indications from sections of the media (but not confirmed byParliament) that the third reading of the Human Fertilisation and EmbryologyBill 2007/8 —which allows for the creation of these animal-human hybridembryos—will take place in Parliament some time next week. In the light of thisfact, we strongly encourage you to contact your MPs to ensure that your viewson the subject of animal-human hybrid embryo research and the importance ofprotecting human dignity are well represented in the upcoming debate.

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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