Commons matters

12 May, 2008

According to the news this morning the Human fertilisation and embryology bill is going through the commons. I support this legislation because I think the research that it proposes to allow could be of great benefit to humanity. While I don’t agree that deaf parents should be allowed to make their children deaf as well. Also I think that allowing single women access to IVF is wrong. That is clearly not in the best interests of the child by any stretch of the imagination as ideally children should be raised by a two parent family even if in the real world it doesn’t always work out like that.

I also reject the argument that life begins at conception. The unborn foetous may have the potential of life but that is not the same as being alive after all it hasn’t been born. That is why we celebrate birthdays and not conception days. As you can see from the rest of the blogosphere on one side you have the pro lifers here, here, here and here and on the other pro scientists here, here, here, here. I suspect that they have as much chance of agree as the israelis  and the palestinians, actually it’s probably less than that but you get the idea.

Anyway the pro bill facebook group of which i’m a part has sent around an email asking people to send in the letter below to newspapers personally as the second reading is today I think this is a little late off the mark but worth sticking on the blog nonetheless

Dear Editor,

“It is hard to imagine a legislative package whose moral sweep and potential ethical consequences could be greater.”

Those are the words of the Spectator Magazine, writing about the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.

MPs have begun debating whether to allow new lines of research into debilitating and deadly diseases. At the same time, they are considering whether lesbian couples should be entitled to fertility treatment. And, they will debate whether deaf couples undergoing fertility treatment should be allowed to prefer a similarly deaf child to a hearing child.

For those of us living here, the embryology bill might seem a strange thing to warrant our attention.

The reason it should: most of us in this area will die of a disease that the research is about.

It is strange that national media headlines are more often about crime and terrorism than they are about medical advances. If we want protection, we should be demanding protection from the things that are most likely to affect us. For children, it’s accidents. For those aged 18-30 it’s suicides. And for older people, it’s a wide range of diseases. Bombs simply don’t figure in the statistics.

It is vital for our society as a whole that there is widespread participation in such deep moral debates. That’s why I’m writing this letter. The bill is a perhaps rare beast – a thoroughly researched and well-prepared piece of government legislation.

MPs are being asked whether to allow doctors to take an egg cell from a cow, remove the main cow DNA, and replace it with human DNA. Human tissue would be produced from the mixed cell that might be helpful in treating diseases. It might be possible to grow a new liver, or introduce replacement brain cells to a sufferer of a degenerative brain disease. The cow egg cell is necessary because there is a shortage of human eggs, which are painful and difficult to extract. Other approaches to growing new human tissue are possible, but the mixed human/animal cell approach offers the potential to treat the widest range of conditions.

The government proposes to allow the research.

Opponents argue that putting human DNA inside a cow’s egg cell devalues human life and should not be allowed. Surely the opposite is true. To abandon promising new lines of research and leave the elderly suffering would be the greatest scandal of all.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill is welcome.

Yours sincerely,

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