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Lords vote for animal human hybrids and saviour siblings

Printer-friendly version On Tuesday 15th January the House of Lords voted against on a ban on the creation of animal-human hybrids for research purposes. A proposed ban on embryo selection for ‘saviour siblings’ was also lost.


Tuesday’s votes in the House of Lords

On Tuesday 15th January the House of Lords voted against on a ban on the creation of animal-human hybrids for research purposes. A proposed ban on embryo selection for ‘saviour siblings’ was also lost. Further issues, including the child’s need for a father and abortion, are due to be debated and voted upon in the Lords on Monday 21st January. Then the amended Bill will have its 3rd Reading before being sent to the Commons for further debate.

If the Bill is not amended in the Commons it will become law that embryonic stem cell researchers will be allowed to mix animal sperm with human eggs or human sperm with animal eggs, in order to create a hybrid embryo. This embryo can be experimented upon and then must be destroyed within 14 days. The UK is alone amongst Western democracies in allowing such research to take place. This legislation, which holds many other worrying provisions besides hybrids, is attacking the very core of who we are as a society, what we value as human beings, how we view the unique dignity of humanity and the lengths we are prepared to go to in perverting nature for our own selfish and often misguided desires.

If the nation is still capable of being shocked, then this Bill – if its contents were more widely known and understood – would certainly do just that. It is the church’s responsibility to speak up for God’s intention for His creation, and in the absence of a wider understanding of the Bill it falls to the church to speak on behalf the nation, to act as lookouts in the watch tower warning of the approaching dangers. Please continue to pray and tell your friends about this Bill, and read on to find out what further action can be taken...

Animal Human Hybrid Embryo vote

Lord Alton’s proposed amendment to the Bill that would have banned the creation of animal-human hybrid embryos was defeated in the House of Lords last night by 96 to 268. These hybrid embryos are now referred to in the Bill as ‘human admixed embryos’ due to a Government amendment.

Several peers spoke in favour of a ban, arguing that such research was both unnecessary and crossed an ethical boundary.

Lord Alton stated “As Parliament is dazzled with misleading claims about therapies and cures, there have been none anywhere in the world... If we permit the creation of these predominantly human interspecies embryos and full hybrids, we will be crossing an important ethical line—crossing human and animal. But for what? For the sake of a technology that we know will not be the future.”

Lord Tebbit argued “Once we get into the business of creating entities which are halfway, or somewhere along that spectrum, between animal and human, we have a deep ethical dilemma... I am also worried about the attitude of the scientific community which, while it is always willing to accept that there should be limits placed on it on ethical grounds, always seems to assume that the limits should be somewhere just beyond what is scientifically possible and what it wants to do and those limits keep moving.”

“The matters we are discussing are more of ethics than of technology. Because it is scientifically possible to do something does not mean it should be done. Because it might bring great benefit to particular people does not mean that it should be done. If we accept arguments of that kind, we are essentially accepting the argument that the end justifies the means.”

Embryo selection for ‘saviour sibling’ vote

Lady O’Cathain’s amendment to ban embryo selection for saviour siblings was sadly also defeated by a vote of 62 to 180. This practice involves destroying healthy embryos because they do not match the tissue type of an existing sick child in the family, and implanting a matching embryo (if there is one) in order to create a child who can provide healthy spare part tissue for the existing child.

In moving her amendment Lady O’Cathain stated: “First, there is the question of potential harms to the parties involved, most obviously the harm inflicted by the destruction of unsuitable embryos. Secondly, at the very centre of our ethical thought—both religious and secular, deriving from philosophy as well as tradition—lies the principle that one may not degrade an individual human life by treating it as an instrument for the benefit of others rather than as something to be regarded and respected in its own right. If we deviate from that principle, we have no fixed grounds on which to stand in resistance to other claims to create and manipulate human life for various beneficial ends.”

“The designed child, for the duration of its life, will be witness to the intention of the designers and will always be vulnerable, both physically and psychologically, to further demands on its body. To manufacture a person in this way is to offend against the respect that is due to the integrity of that person, no matter how compelling the goal of trying to cure. I am therefore convinced that the right decision has to be total opposition to the deliberate creation of children as tissue donors for others.”

Lord Patten argued that “Children are children and not organ banks”, and Lord Winston warned “There is a real risk that children might be used, and therefore abused, with this technology, so we must consider this very carefully.”

Monday, 21st Jan: votes on fathers and abortion

The House of Lords will continue to debate the Bill on Monday 21st January, when they will be voting on the 'need for a father' in IVF treatment and an amendment on abortion for disability. Lady Masham, who is disabled herself, laid the abortion amendment.

Currently the law permits abortion up to the point of birth if a child is diagnosed as disabled. This has been the point of some controversy in the past, as it has allowed the late abortion of foetuses for such minor conditions as a cleft palate (Joanna Jepson case). It is also argued by many disability rights groups that the law is discriminatory and eugenicist. Lady Masham’s amendment proposes that abortion on the grounds of disability be repealed and therefore brought into line with the rest of the abortion law. The deadline for all amendments to the Bill is tomorrow and currently Lady Masham's amendment is the only abortion amendment that has been laid in the House of Lords.


You can still write to the Lords before Monday about fathers and abortion, and encouraging them to attend the votes.

CCFON ‘Time to Stand’ Rally Outside Parliament

Hundreds rallied outside the House of Lords yesterday to take a stand against the Bill. There was a great atmosphere as those present sang hymns, prayed and held placards reading: No Animal Human Hybrids; Protect The Embryo; Children Need Fathers; and, Protect The Family. Some wore cow and rabbit masks to demonstrate the absurdity of creating animal-human hybrids. A picture of protesters wearing masks and holding placards was featured in The Guardian on Wednesday.



We would also like to thank those who participated in the rally and those who prayed for us - your support is vital and much appreciated. We look forward to seeing you again next time!