Wednesday 22 October 2008

Tragedy of Commons' approval for embryo bill

This is a tragic day in British history. Tonight at Westminster, MPs voted by 355 to 129 to approve the government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill at its third reading, the last main parliamentary vote. This bill will extend the lethal abuse of the most vulnerable members of our society. It enshrines and extends the creation and abuse of human embryos outside the womb. SPUC will raise these fundamental issues at the general election.

During the debate, Sir Gerald Kaufman, a veteran MP not naturally supportive of the pro-life cause, pointed out that the bill raises "fundamental moral issues about human rights" which "goes to the heart of the origin of the human race".

David Burrowes, the Conservative MP who presented SPUC's petition against the bill to Parliament in the summer, pointed out loopholes which would allow even more macabre and sinister experiments than already clear from the face of the bill.

Edward Leigh, the veteran pro-life Catholic MP, said:
"At the heart of the debates on this bill has been that we are treating the human embryo as a thing. The human embryo is not a blob of cells nor a potential human being, but a human being with potential. What we are doing today is very dangerous - we are making ourselves less than human by treating human embryos as things."

Andrew Selous, a Christian MP, protested at how the bill denies people their birthright, namely to have a relationship with their natural father and mother.

On the positive side, thousands of people across the country joined a concerted campaign in solidarity with unborn children. Prominent national church leaders, such as Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, and Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue of Lancaster, 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 have defended the weakest of the weak.

Many pro-life groups, representing a wide range of activity in the pro-life movement came together to work against the bill. Choose Life, CARE and Christian Concern for Our Nation led strong initiatives from the Evangelical and Anglican Christians. The Catholic bishops' conference of England and Wales gave strong encouragement to Catholic layfolk to speak out on the issue. Others spoke out from the Muslim tradition, the Jewish faith and from multi-faith and interdenominational groups.

Equally important have been the contribution of expert scientific and medical bodies and bioethicists, particularly on the issues of embryology, human-animal hybrids and stem cell research.

And in their powerful resistance, the politicians and people of Northern Ireland showed that a pro-life community cannot be bullied into submission by the ethically compromised Westminster establishment. I'm also blogging on this today.

Future generations will look back on this macabre bill and wonder how a supposedly civilised nation could have so devalued human life.

I just thank God that, as a result of the lobbying efforts of so many, Gordon Brown climbed down on abortion and effectively pulled Parliament back from the brink of voting for extreme pro-abortion amendments to the Abortion Act, including the imposition of the Abortion Act on Northern Ireland, which would have stripped away virtually all remaining vestige of protection for unborn children.