Thinking Anglicans

embryology bill debate: archbishop writes

Tomorrow the House of Commons begins debating the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, an updated version of the current legislation which became law in 1990.

See Embryology Bill: the key points at the BBC.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has written in the Mail on Sunday about the issues involved, see We condemn torture, rape – anything that uses another’s body for our own purpose – Shouldn’t we show embryos similar respect?

Update The same Daily Mail text is now on the Lambeth Palace site as well.

Here is the earlier TA report on what was said when the House of Lords considered this bill.

Rather surprisingly, the Medical Research Council is discouraging scientists from attending Parliament, see BBC Scientists’ protest discouraged.

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JCF
JCF
12 years ago

Since TA is again lagging behind the Priest-who-is-Mad, I direct you here, http://revjph.blogspot.com/2008/05/grand-tufti-uses-potentiality-argument.html for my prior comment.

[In essence, how can “dual-intention” pregnancies be worse than UNINTENDED pregnancies? :-/]

Simon Sarmiento
12 years ago

JCF
But at least I am linking to the original full text not to a wire service digest thereof.

Pluralist
12 years ago

I think he is trying to show solidarity with Roman Catholics and opposition to secular science, whilst knowing that the Roman Catholic stance is rubbish and the scientific world is responsible. He persuades me not a jot.

Göran Koch-Swahne
12 years ago

I wondered why I didn’t expect anything from this.

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
12 years ago

“I think he is trying to show solidarity with Roman Catholics and opposition to secular science, whilst knowing that the Roman Catholic stance is rubbish and the scientific world is responsible.” Can you clarify? I don’t think it’s solidarity with anyone to say that, as a basic principle, we don’t have the right to use other people for our own purposes. That’s not rubbish. The question is whether or not an embryo is another person. Clearly, as he says, experimenting on embryos is not the same as experimenting on unwilling adults, say. But it is still true to acknowledge that… Read more »

drdanfee
drdanfee
12 years ago

That such a highly educated leader so often noted for his nuance and complexity – to the infuriating point of obfuscation or confusion, in some folks’ eyes? – should be such a poor reader of empirical data and science must surely give those of us who institutionalise him as an Instrument of Communion – very great pause. Alas. Could Canterbury take a short refresher course in empirical manners and methods, soon? Otherwise, the poorly informed are offering discernment and leadership to the poorly informed? Two aspects of this strategy disturb me. I am disturbed by the repeat play of a… Read more »

James
James
12 years ago

Well said Ford

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
12 years ago

People claim that they are respecting the embryos being experimented on. They are not. (1) They are no use to them after 14 days in any case – if they were, they would doubtless keep them longer. (2) Their fate is to be flushed down the incinerator. As Ali G would say: ‘Respect, man’. (3) They pretend to be concerned for the 14 day limit and simultaneously have no qualms about embryos far older than that being aborted. Talk about intellectual incoherence.

Robert ian Williams
Robert ian Williams
12 years ago

Divisive and controversial actions?

Not inviting Bishop Robinson……not issuing a rebuke to Venables and Co?

MadPriest
12 years ago

OCICBW… would never consider itself in competition with proper news aggregators such as TA because its remit is non-objective, satirical comment on the news. However, if TA started beating OCICBW… to Jesus in potatoes, or sex with bicycles, stories on a regular basis then it would be war.

mark diebel
mark diebel
12 years ago

I’m going to step out a little on this comment, nervously, and make a self-disclosure here that is somewhat relevant regarding my following concern. I am adopted… and was adopted in the United States in a place which has “closed records”… meaning that I have no right to know who my natural parents are. My concern with this bill doesn’t concern what the BBC identifies as “key points”. It doesn’t concern what the Archbishop of Canterbury is talking about. It concerns the children who will be born using these reproductive technologies who will be precluded from knowing their genetic/biological roots.… Read more »

Merseymike
Merseymike
12 years ago

The question should be focused not on the embryos, but the possible outcomes of the research, as that will help actual living people. I do not believe that embryos up to 14 days are of moral equivalence to people living. They are not ‘persons’. The very odd ‘morality’ of people willing to allow others to suffer because they believe a few cells in a petrie dish to be a ‘person’ is evidence that the last people who we need to listen to on these and most other issues of this type are the religious leaders. I feel sure that the… Read more »

Hugh of Lincoln
Hugh of Lincoln
12 years ago

Good. This has the potential to bring happiness and relief to millions, which, with strict safeguards in place, far outweighs any squeamishness about the methods.

The Mail’s headline distorts what the archbishop said (No surprise there). He is far more nuanced in the article and quashes the gross “Frankenstein” distortions of some RC clerics. In fact, he doesn’t really smuggle religion into the argument at all.

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
12 years ago

Mark: I understand (and sympathize with) your concerns, but what exactly are you concerned with–the actual identity (name, family, etc.) of the biological parents, or their medical information which may be of value to the adoptee for obvious reasons? I ask, because I am familiar with several adopted children among my own children’s friends, and I find that, for them, their “family history” is that of their adoptive family, not of their biological one. To them, their “personal history…a heritage and connection to the past through relationships” is through the family which has raised them and nurtured them and given… Read more »

popy tupper
popy tupper
12 years ago

Rowan Williams presides over the disintegration of his own house, yet dares to lecture the nation on this issue. He denies human rights to homosexuals, yet he attributes them to clusters of cells. He diminishes the human rights of women priests (and thereby of all women) by supporting structures for those who will not be tainted by a woman in holy orders, yet he rants on about the rights of unformed, potential women. This is a man with no moral authority, and he should keep quiet. He is a busted flush.

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
12 years ago

A human being is not a different individual at different points in his/her life cycle. He/she is one and the same individual. We are not normally accustomed to speaking about one and the same individual as though they were two quite separate individuals (the early stages and the later stages). Indeed, it would never occur to us to do so (and never did) unless (and until) it served our interests and our ends. Aside from which, we all know perfectly well that we, who were lucky enough to be born, once were as a one-week old fertilised egg is today.… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
12 years ago

“On what grounds do those lucky enough to be born think that they are equipped to adjudicate, from their position of privilege, that others should not have the same luck. It’s that old Nietzschean will to power again: both unpleasant, ugly, and illogical.” But these are embryos that will never be born under any circumstances. They are–even to the parents who created them, unfortunately–excess baggage. If the choice is to use them to help the ill or destroy them (and those are the only two choices for the vast majority–the idea that all of them could be “adopted” and implanted… Read more »

Merseymike
Merseymike
12 years ago

Because, Christopher, your assertion that they are ‘persons’ is wrong. Try putting the cells on a petrie dish and have a conversation with them – to pretend they have moral equivalence with a fully developed person is ludicrous and shows the warped ‘morality’ we are dealing with.

L Roberts
L Roberts
12 years ago

‘…. This is a human matter, that will affect potentially thousands of children. It is already affecting thousands right now. These policies must be examined. Most of society assumes a personal history, a heritage and connection to the past through relationships. ‘ When society closes that door, the door shuts hard.Information disclosure is not a scintillating part of the bill, but it has immediate and far reaching effect. It should be natural human right that everyone may know, without exception, their biological histories. This sort of thing affects not just one generation, but all subsequent.’ Posted by: mark diebel on… Read more »

Walsingham
Walsingham
12 years ago

@MadPriest:

Dare I admit that the idea of a “war” between OCICBW and TA would be so entertaining that I would actively encourage Simon to post some Anglican sex on bicycles?

/me starts to make some popcorn and prepares to watch the show

IT
IT
12 years ago

A few things to think about: 50% of human conception end in miscarriage, a large fraction before a woman even knows she is pregnant. Any sexually active woman who has her period a little late might be miscarrying. The unfertilized egg is not a person…is it? If it is, then all women are pregnant all the time. (We are born with all our eggs). An “Egg” is not considered an embryo unless it is fertilized by a sperm. Is replacing Egg’s nucleus with that from a skin cell creating a person? (Somatic nuclear transfer). How, since it can never develop?… Read more »

Walsingham
Walsingham
12 years ago

Well, here is a thought process that I’ve had in the back of my mind for some time.

Consider that there is a fairly definite medical definition of death: the lack of a pulse and a brainwave. When those things are lacking, the person is “clinically dead”.

Suppose if we turn that on its head and say that the embryo is not really “alive” until a brainwave and pulse is detectable (usually around the 11th week of pregnancy IIRC).

Thoughts?

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
12 years ago

Walsingham:

Makes sense to me.

Göran Koch-Swahne
12 years ago

“The Quickening” is the traditional answer of the Church.

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
12 years ago

Hi Merseymike-

Report to me the last conversation you had with a post-birth baby under two.

Did the baby fail to respond to your learned observations?

Did you then kill the baby?

No? Why not?

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
12 years ago

Hi Pat- I was talking about abortion not about embryo experimentation. However, your position that it is better to kill off the pre-birth babies than to re-educate heart-dead and conscience-dead adults is illogical. There are plenty of adults who ‘want’ this or that. No doubt Hitler ‘wanted’ Jewish blood. What people ‘want’ is irrelevant, unless the great Selfishness is your deity. They ‘want’ these things because they are the haves feeding off the have-nots. RW is right: let us be consistent. If using others’ bodies against their consent is something chilling in other circumstances, let us work out whether or… Read more »

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
12 years ago

“Try putting the cells on a petrie dish and have a conversation with them”

Try putting a twenty year old with severe CP in the same dish. Will you kill her because she can’t have a conversation with you? Who are you to decide who’s human and who isn’t? Other people claim you aren’t really human, and you accuse them of hatred. If ability to carry on a conversation is your criterion for humanity, I’d say you are the last person to be permitted to decide the humanity of others.

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
12 years ago

“If using others’ bodies against their consent is something chilling in other circumstances, let us work out whether or not it is chilling in these circumstances too before pressing ahead like a juggernaut.”

In the case of “brain-dead” adults, we turn to next of kin or those with legal authority to make the decisions. Why then not do the same with embryos? If the man and woman who donated the genetic material to make the embryo have no objection to its being donated for research….?

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
12 years ago

Hi Pat-

You can’t see the difference? Brain-dead adults are regarded, rightly or wrongly, as always being likely to remain brain-dead. Embryo-stage humans, by contrast, will generally continue their already-begun development process, and will continue to be what they already are (namely: healthy human beings) if the conscience-dead and heart-dead keep their horrible, unfeeling hands off them.

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