Monday, 12 May 2008

HFE bill: the next steps

MPs tonight voted for the government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill during its second reading. There were 340 votes for and just 78 against. Although this is by no means the end of the matter, the outcome is disturbing.

In tonight's debate we heard yet more promises of therapies that could come from such research. In 1990 we were told that breakthroughs were imminent and yet nothing has been achieved save the destruction of countless human embryos.

There were also threats tonight from some MPs that they are prepared to use the bill to widen access to abortion. Although the government has stated that it would prefer not to have abortion amendments in the bill, it has not taken steps to stop this from happening. If pro-abortion MPs succeed in making access to abortion more widely available and imposing it on Northern Ireland, the government will share in the responsibility.

SPUC strongly urges everyone to ask their MP to oppose pro-abortion amendments. We do not recommend asking MPs to support time limit amendments in the bill. Why not?

Some MPs are already talking in terms of a “trade off”; that is, supporting some “pro-life” amendments and other pro-abortion ones. This would be disastrous. The time limit amendment would become a bargaining chip for our opponents to use to gain support for the pro-abortion amendments.

SPUC recognises the good intentions of many who support time limit amendments, but we have consistently opposed calls for time-limit amendments in the current Parliament.

SPUC’s briefings on the bill (available from SPUC HQ or on our website) explain the objections to time-limit amendments in more detail.