British Govt Sees Catholic Liberal MPs Opposing Pro-Cloning Embryo Bill

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 6, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

British Govt Sees Catholic Liberal MPs Opposing Pro-Cloning Embryo Bill Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 6
, 2008

London, England ( — The Labourl Party in England, which has the current British governmental majority, is seeing some Catholic MPs rebelling over the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill. The measure would promote the kind of cloning practices Catholics oppose and some top government officials could vote no even if the Party doesn’t allow a free vote.

Three British cabinet ministers could defy an instruction from their party to support the measure, including Ruth Kelly, Des Browne and Paul Murphy.

Andy Burnham, the Culture Secretary, is also said to have raised objections.

The bill allows the creation of clones that are 99 percent human but also have animal DNA infused. Scientists want to clone and kill these chimeras to search for cures for diseases.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has previously indicated he would allow a free vote on the issue but worried it would upset other party members who have been loyal to the government. The revolt by members of his own cabinet is forcing him to reconsider his decision.

The London Telegraph indicates Brown could allow members to abstain from voting on the bill but not vote against it, which would increase the likelihood it would pass and give him room to allow some pro-life Labour MPs to not be forced to support it.

However, some MPs have said even that isn’t enough because their conscience and religious views prompt them to oppose the grisly practice.

David Cameron, the Conservative leader, has already allowed members of his party a free vote on the bill, which could come up for approval in the next two months.

John Smeaton, the national director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, a leading British pro-life group, sent a statement to about the situation.

"Of course it’s right that politicians should demand the freedom to vote according to their consciences, without being penalized by their party, on a bill which, if passed, will cost the lives of countless human beings," he said.

Smeaton urged MPs to stand their ground despite what the party leadership may allow.

"Whatever their party leaders may threaten, politicians have a moral duty to vote against the bill," he said. "No punishment meted out by Gordon Brown on cabinet ministers or backbench politicians, however dreadful, absolves them of their moral responsibility to vote against such a bill."

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