By Hilary White
LONDON, November 20, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Recent moves by British parliamentarians to alter or defeat the government’s proposed embryology bill is being called a “last stand” to defend the rights of the child to true family life. Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith and a group of MP’s, family rights groups and religious leaders have denounced the government’s proposed Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.
The bill proposes to erase the legal requirement of IVF clinics to take into account a child’s need for a father when considering applications by single or lesbian women for artificial procreation treatments. The bill would allow two women to be named as the parents of a child conceived with donated sperm or ova.
In an article in the Daily Mail’s Sunday edition, Iain Duncan Smith called the bill the “last nail in the coffin” of the traditional family, “and another blow will have been struck against fatherhood”.
Smith wrote, “This move could not have come at a worse time. Just as we are beginning to appreciate the vital role fathers play in the successful upbringing of children, Labour ministers are sending out the utterly wrong signal that fathers don’t matter.”
45 MP’s, including a number of Labour Members, have signed a Commons motion saying the proposals are “profoundly misinformed and clearly undermine the best interests of the child”. In an announcement yesterday, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that there would be no free vote for Labour MP’s, a move that has angered some of his party, insisting the bill be railroaded through Parliament.
In a letter to the Times, Cormac Cardinal Murphy O’Connor, Primate of the English Catholic bishops and Archbishop of Westminster, wrote that the bill’s proposal “subordinates the rights of the child to the desire of the women”. “This radically undermines the place of the father in a child’s life, and makes the natural rights of the child subordinate to the desires of the couple. It is profoundly wrong,” the Cardinal wrote.
Cardinal Murphy O’Connor was joined by Dr. John Sentamu, the Anglican Archbishop of York, who said the proposals in the Human Tissue and Embryology Bill were “divorced from morality”. He told the House of Lords the bill’s proposal to remove the need for a father, contradicted the government’s emphasis on the need for father figures to encourage “social cohesion”. The move, he said, derives from a “consumerist mentality” in which “the science that allows something to happen is transformed into the right to have it”.
The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) commented on yesterday’s debates saying that the “principle of welfare of the child is disregarded” in the bill.
The “legal fictions” surrounding the questions of parenthood, a SPUC memorandum says, “should be rejected as contrary to honesty, justice and the best interests of the child.” SPUC is urging Peers to reject the bill as a whole when it is debated again this Wednesday.
“The welfare of the child should be a guiding principle in the delivery of reproductive technology. The need for a father, a basic principle that is clearly in the best interest of the child, is rejected to satisfy ill-founded demands for the right to parenthood.”
Daily Mail columnist Melanie Philips applauded the move as a “last stand” to defend the family after decades of attacks by “an alliance of feminists, gay rights activists, divorce lawyers and ‘cultural Marxists’”.
In the decades since the “catastrophe” of the sexual revolution of the 1960’s, Philips says, “stitch by stitch, the fabric of family life was unpicked…Lone parenthood and illegitimacy were de-stigmatised, cohabitation became routine and marriage was penalised through the tax and benefits system.”
“The outcome has been an epidemic of fatherlessness and a rising tide of juvenile misery and social breakdown.” She wrote that more recently, “anyone who objected” to the imposition of the homosexual agenda on British political life “was crucified as ‘homophobic’, creating a climate of rampant intimidation and cultural bullying which has successfully stifled debate and dragooned politicians into line.”
Read related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Two Lesbians to be named as “Mothers” on Birth Certificates under UK Human Tissue and Embryo Bill