By Hilary White

WESTMINSTER, October 22, 2008 ( – U.K. pro-life campaigners were deeply saddened at tonight’s vote on the Labour government’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. MPs voted 355 to 129 to pass the bill that allows human/animal embryos to be created by cloning and used in experiments. 

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) condemned the vote, saying, “Future generations would regard the bill as devaluing human life.” SPUC said they will raise the issue during the next general election.

Besides allowing the creation of cloned human/animal embryos for experimentation, the bill will enshrine in law all the individual permissions given in the last 16 years by the UK’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. It will allow homosexual partners to have children created for them in IVF labs after it abolishes the requirement that doctors consider the “need for a father” in artificial procreation treatments. It allows the creation of children, called “saviour siblings,” to be used as tissue donors for siblings, and permits the genetic manipulation of embryos for eugenic purposes. Earlier this week, it was also revealed that the government plans to use the bill to allow the creation of human clones from tissues taken from mentally incapacitated patients who cannot give consent.

Describing the vote as “tragic” and the bill itself as “macabre,” SPUC director John Smeaton said, “Our only consolation is that thousands of people across the country have joined a concerted campaign in solidarity with unborn children.”

Smeaton paid tribute to community and Church leaders such as Keith Cardinal O’Brien, the archbishop of Edinburgh, and Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue of Lancaster who “showed that strong, clear, courageous stands can put the sanctity of human life at the forefront of public debate.”

“Scores” of doctors, lawyers and academics, as well as representatives of other faiths joined in the combined efforts of the various pro-life groups to oppose the bill.

“Individual pro-life campaigners and supporters,” Smeaton said, “showed that they can work together to deliver politically effective campaigns at a national, regional and local level.

“Despite the embryo bill’s passage, the pro-life movement remains motivated to continue developing a peaceful and powerful resistance movement to the culture of death,” Smeaton said.

Responding to the government’s scheduling motion that precluded a vote on amendments intended to expand the provisions of the UK’s 1967 Abortion Act into Northern Ireland, Betty Gibson, chairwoman of SPUC Northern Ireland, said, “In the face of such opposition the prime minister has realised that, if pro-abortion MPs outside Northern Ireland ignored the Assembly, it would have created a constitutional dilemma which he would have had to deal with.”

For weeks, media reports have said that ministers were warned that attempts to force legal abortion on Northern Ireland would have resulted in the Stormont MLAs pulling out of delicate negotiations on justice and policing issues related to the peace process.

Read related coverage:

UK Embryo Bill Passed without Amendment in House of Lords

Human/Pig Hybrid Clones Approved for UK

Tissue Can Be Taken from Mentally Incapacitated to Make Clones without Consent under British Bill

Pro-life Efforts Redouble as U.K. Embryo Bill Goes Back to House of Commons


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