by Steven Ertelt
December 14, 2007
London, England (LifeNews.com) — British lawmakers will get a free vote on an upcoming bill that could be used to promote abortions and will allow scientists to make human-animal hybrids or chimeras for research. They were worried they would be held to the government’s position on its legislation in favor of the legislation.
Previously, members of the British Labor Party requested that Prime Minister Gordon Brown give them a free vote on the upcoming Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.
On Thursday, Cabinet members who were told they must stand with the government or lose their positions heard they could vote their conscience.
Ruth Kelly, the Transport Secretary and Des Browne, the Defense Secretary, had expressed reservations about the measure, which would also remove the requirement that fertility clinics be sure that a father is involved in the care for any child he creates.
Members of Parliament are typically given a free vote on controversial subjects like abortion but government leaders are concerned that the measure’s defeat would reflect poorly on the governing Labour Party.
As LifeNews.com previously reported, Labour MP Joe Benton, who is the secretary of a multi-partisan group of pro-life lawmakers, doesn’t want to be forced to vote for it.
"I am appealing to like-minded people to write to the three party leaders, urging them to allow a free vote on the bill," he said earlier this month. “I certainly think there should be [a free vote]. There is definitely material there for objections of conscience."
Despite the free vote allowance, top government officials opposed to the bill are most likely to vote present, the London Telegraph reported, rather than vote in opposition.
An important aspect of the free vote is that amendments to the bill will be allowed.
Some pro-life lawmakers are considering modifying it to prohibit more late-term abortions by moving the time limit for them from 24 weeks into pregnancy to 20 weeks.
One leading pro-life group has opposed that call to lower the limit because it worries it will open the door to more abortions.
Meanwhile, some pro-abortion MPs have promised to attach pro-abortion language that could allow nurses to do abortions, remove the requirement that two doctors certify an abortion or allow them to be done in a non-hospital setting.