Embryology Bill

Wow, what a lot of to-do about nothing! For the last few days, MP’s have been taking part in free voting on 3 clauses of the much-scorned-by-fuddy-duddies Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, and thankfully it appears they’ve voted with their heads.

I sent a letter a month or so ago to my local Labour MP, Ben Chapman, urging him to ignore the irrelevant religious arguments that have made their way to the forefront of the public debate. He sent me a very nice letter back saying that the religious arguments were not the only reasons to oppose the bill, and listed a few other arguments which I don’t personally agree with. His main reason was that (paraphrasing) “the importance of human life is paramount. It’s what all our other laws are based upon.” Now this is essentially a religious argument. Thinking biologically, human life is no more important (or ‘sacred’, to use the religious terminology) than animal life. That said, I’m glad he voted with his head rather than with his heart.

Looking at the science, I’m a bit confused what all the fuss is all about. The words “human-animal hybrid” portray to many a little baby with a cow’s head or something. In reality most of the hybrids are 99.9% human, and the only animal part is the casing of the egg. What’s the big deal?

Similarly, the Daily Mail made a massive deal about “fathers being made redundant”, the morning after the vote which meant that lesbian couples or single females could have IVF treatment without the need for a male parent. I’m sorry but their argument is totally flawed. Nobody is saying that male role models aren’t important in a child’s life. But a woman can go out, have sex with a man, get pregnant and bring the child up alone, totally by choice. But as soon as it gets to IVF, there has to be a male parent. Why is the law different in this respect just because IVF is involved? I really think that these religious people (and a series of articles in the Daily Mail have specifically defended the religious view) will argue against anything that advances reproductive rights in this country.

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, (who remember, supposedly represents a million Catholics in Scotland), has reeatedly said that this bill “has no public support”. But the polls suggest otherwise, apparently 61% of people support the bill, according to a survey from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.

Sometimes I wish people would pull their heads out of their arses and use them for thinking, for once.

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2 Responses to Embryology Bill

  1. Jon says:

    Awesome that you wrote to your MP!

    The term “human-animal hybrid” is a little odd too of course. I was reminded of it while listening to someone on the radio who referred to some genetic traits that apply to humans “and other non-human animals” 🙂

  2. grammarking says:

    It’s very strange how people draw a line between humans and animals. The only reason we can even differentiate easily between species is because all the intermediates between them are extinct! Dawkins has a very good chapter in The Blind Watchmaker on this and other taxonomy-related topics.

    I regularly write to my MP on issues that I care about, just to see what he’s thinking. It’s got to the stage where he’ll forward petitions and letters to my address about things he knows I care about, even if I haven’t contacted him. I live in an area where Labour aren’t ever likely to be voted out, so it’s more effective to write directly than to try and vote with my feet if he does something I don’t like.

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