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Huge votes tonight  and tomorrow in the House on the future embryo research in the UK, as well as changes to the abortion laws in the UK. These will update the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, from 1990 in line with scientific advances.

Sorry if the typing is rubbish, I'm doing this typing with a broken wrist!

Both major parties made all the votes 'Free votes' on the issues tonight, although Cameron and Brown both voted against the bans in all cases. Although there were passionate arguments on both sides of the debate, as well as the church getting involved with little effect.

Further info is available via the BBC website

Firstly Hybrid human/animal embryos for stem cell research, the proposed ban on this research was defeated, this was despite  a number of Catholic MPs voted for the ban, including Transport Minister Ruth Kelly.

Reassurances where given that the research  "must satisfy the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority that it was necessary or desirable" and No human "admix" embryo would be implanted into a woman or animal.

However Tory MP Edward Leigh wasn't convinced saying

"We do not believe that regulation is enough. We believe this is a step too far and therefore should be banned.

"In embryos, we do have the genetic make up of a complete human being and we could not and should not be spliced together with the animal kingdom."

However the vote went against banning Hybrid embryos.

Secondly, 'Saviour siblings' babies born from embryos selected because they are a tissue match for a sick older brother or sister with a genetic condition, MPs have again voted against banning this practice, again, the same voting patterns.

Again feelings ran high, David Barrows (C) who was for the ban said that a child should not be created

"deliberately created to be used for the benefit of another, no matter how pressing the need".

However, Dr Evan Harris who is the Lib Dem spokesman on Science and a GP who was fighting the ban commented

"I don't accept the allegation that there will be a burden on the saviour sibling.

"There's no evidence of that. There is evidence that if they are not born in this way then they will suffer bereavement because the older child may die."

"Even if you could forecast circumstances where there would be such a burden, that potential circumstance has to be balanced against the certainty of harm if they are not allowed to do it."

Again the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has made it clear it would not allow the procedure if there was an alternative which did not involve the destruction of embryos, and the law already allows parents to use IVF procedures to select embryos that will be a genetic match to older siblings, but only when they have a life-threatening disease such as rare blood disorders. Todays votes will further open up the options for parents.

Tomorrow will see the vote on late term abortions, with a possible cut from the current 24 weeks, to 20 weeks, however the research and the debate is likely to see 24 week limit stay in place for the time being.

I'm delighted with the votes so far, it puts the UK at the leading edge of research again, being prepared to push the boundaries of research for the greater good, and having  a debate based in evidence and science, rather then pandering to extreme groups on either side.

and now tonight, the proposed changes to the abortion act were defeated, 24 weeks remains the limit on abortions.

All in all two progressive days for science and abortion rights

Originally posted to Rothkoldn on Mon May 19, 2008 at 02:39 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  hell even iran is ok with stem cell (0+ / 0-)

    The axis of evil that they are...

  •  Great Diary Topic (0+ / 0-)

    I saw this story tonight on BBC World News, and it seems very exciting and promising. Of course, a lot of research and studies will need to occur before any tangible results can be gained, but the sooner we start, the sooner we can get there.

    It is so sad how far behind we are here in the U.S. Not only do we not have federal funding for normal embryonic stem cell research, but also it's very likely that this new Hybrid embryonic stem cell research will be banned from federal funding as well. Hopefully a new administration can change this. But it's so sad to think of the number of years of research we've missed, and how many people will have to suffer and/or die in those years that we could have found a treatment.

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