MPs voted yesterday to allow the creation of hybrid
embryos and 'saviour siblings' as part of the Human
Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.
Conservative MP, Edward Leigh, tried to outlaw all
hybrid embryos but was defeated by 336 votes to 176,
a majority of 168.
He said that "we cannot and should not be spliced together
with the animal kingdom" and ended with the words of
Frankenstein's monster: "I the miserable and the abandoned,
am an abortion, to be spurned at, and kicked, and trampled
Sir Gerald Kaufman warned that the House was on a slippery
slope: "If you permit the creation of a hybrid embryo
now what will you permit next time?"
Mark Simmonds, the shadow health minister, while backing
other types of embryo research, attempted to ban "true
hybrids" but even more worrying, this was rejected by
286 votes to 223, a majority of 63.
I have a disability, yet I still think it's wrong
to destroy embryos
by Alison Davis
Tuesday May 20 2008
Geraldine Peacock argues that the human fertilisation
and embryology bill, part of which MPs voted on yesterday,
offers her "hope" and claims that its provisions will
provide cures for conditions such as Parkinson's disease,
which she has (This bill gives me hope, May 12).
Significantly, she wishes that "some of the squabbling
scientists and the scaremongers could spend a day inside
my body and see if they still held the same views at
the end of it. No research that offers the chance of
release from this tyrant of an illness should be stopped."
I don't need to "step into the shoes" of a disabled
person, because I have been disabled since before I
was born. I have spina bifida, hydrocephalus, emphysema
and osteoporosis, and use a wheelchair full time.
I run the No Less Human group for disabled people,
their families and carers - campaigning for the equal
right to life of all disabled people, from conception
to natural death. I have researched the stem-cell issue
and the truth is that we simply don't need to create
- and then destroy - human or human-animal hybrid embryos
in order to achieve successful treatments for disabling
Ms Peacock claimed that the creation and destruction
of human-animal hybrid embryos is a "most promising
development" which "has the potential to improve everyone's
life". Apparently MPs accepted this view in voting yesterday
to allow such research. I disagree.
I believe that each individual human life begins at
the moment of fertilisation. I thus find it unacceptable
that scientists should create human or partly human
embryos, only to destroy them in the process of removing
their stem cells. In the case of hybrids, the wrong
is compounded by creating embryos whose status is at
best uncertain. Are they human or are they not? No one
Additionally, it is well known in scientific circles
that embryonic and hybrid stem cells have yet to produce
a single cure or treatment, and also that they have
a tendency to give rise to cancerous tumours. Ethical
sources of stem cells - such as umbilical cord, bone
marrow, blood and even fat cells - do not appear to
have any such serious problems, and are already being
successfully used to treat disabling conditions.
For instance, an article in the Lancet noted that 50
years of clinical transplants of bone-marrow derived
stem cells have shown "significant benefit" in heart
attack patients - and trials are under way, or planned,
for heart failure and stroke. Similar successes have
been achieved using ethical sources of stem cells in
patients with spinal cord injury, diabetes, Parkinson's
disease and bone disease.
MPs have now voted to create and destroy human embryos
and human-animal hybrids, which is wrong in itself and
will also divert attention away from much more promising
work using ethical sources of stem cells.
You don't need to step into my shoes to see that it
is wrong to kill one group of human beings (albeit very
young and small) for the putative benefit of another.
I'm not a "scaremonger". But I am sad that MPs have,
by yesterday's vote, shown their preference for hype
over real hope
- Alison Davis is the founder of No Less Human and
I strongly urge you to read and ponder her words
on the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children
She helps us to understand more about what humanity
is all about and what a precious gift life is, regardless
of our individual circumstances.