By Hilary White
LONDON, June 26, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In April, the British government tabled draft legislation that proposes to allow experiments to create human/animal hybrids. Now the Catholic bishops of England and Wales have responded by saying that any embryos created by combining human and animal DNA are human beings with full human rights, including the right to natural birth.
The bishops have made a submission to the parliamentary committee examining the proposed legislation and have said that the genetic mothers of these “chimeras” should be able to raise them.
There are many ways of creating embryos derived from a combination of human and animal elements. Animals with some human DNA are commonly used in medical research already. But the proposal to allow the creation of embryos from human ova in order to obtain stem cells or replacement organs has been a contentious issue even among secular ethicists who have no foundational objection to cloning.
The law, however, specifically prohibits the implantation and gestation of such embryos once they are created, meaning that the human being created must be killed after a certain point of development. The prohibition makes the British bill another of a multitude of “clone-and-kill” bills around the world.
The bishops’ submission says that most of the procedures that would be legal under the bill “should not be licensed under any circumstances.” However, though the creation of hybrid or “chimeric” embryos is itself wrong, the person conceived must be given every possible chance of life. “At the very least, embryos with a preponderance of human genes should be assumed to be embryonic human beings, and should be treated accordingly,” they wrote.
“In particular, it should not be a crime to transfer them, or other human embryos, to the body of the woman providing the ovum, in cases where a human ovum has been used to create them.”
“Such a woman is the genetic mother, or partial mother, of the embryo; should she have a change of heart and wish to carry her child to term, she should not be prevented from doing so.”
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