Updated Tuesday afternoon
Several Church of England bishops have stepped into the controversy generated by the UK government’s proposed Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (see this PDF for how the bill actually alters existing legislation).
The Bishop of St Albans is quoted in today’s Daily Mail see Embryos: Church of England demands free vote on controversial research plans and in this Press Association report.
The Bishop of Lichfield has issued this press statement, Bishop adds voice to free vote calls on human-animal embryos and got a mention in the Birmingham Mail Scientists to meet church leaders over embryo research and in The Times David Cameron: Catholics should not misrepresent embryo Bill.
The Bishop of Durham preached this Easter Day sermon, which was reported in the Newcastle Chronicle as Embryo research an issue for all Christians and attacked furiously in The Times by David Aaronovitch under the headline Wicked untruths from the Church.
Some useful background articles:
Q&A: Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill
Embryology Bill: Bishop’s ‘Frankenstein’ attack smacks of ignorance, say scientists
Letters, including one from Colin Blakemore former head of the Medical Research Council.
Tuesday afternoon update
The Archbishop of Canterbury has expressed his opinion on this matter, see Archbishop on Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. Full text below the fold.
Archbishop on Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill
Tuesday 25 March 2008
Interview with the Press Association
Dr Williams attacked proposals in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill which could open the door to research into hybrid embryos and which would remove the reference to the need for a father when under going fertility treatment.
He said: “The hybrid question – there has been a lot of rather extreme and alarmist talk about this and I fully accept that it is not about the breeding of monsters, but at the same time, I think there remains this very instrumentalist view of the human embryo: we use it for something and then destroy it, and I find that ethically very hard to accept.
“The hybrid embryos is just an aspect of overall attitudes to embryo research.
“In this country, more than in many others we seem to be taking for granted that it is all right to regard the human embryo as something to be used instrumentally – that is my big moral concern.”
He said he “regretted” the proposals on removing the need for a father, saying it was a “downgrading of the ordinary processes of reproduction and upbringing” in favour of a “highly technological view” of what human reproduction was about.
Dr Williams also called for the Government to allow a free vote on the “big issues” of conscience, posed by the proposals on hybrid embryos in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill and the removal of the clause on the need for a father.