British Prime Minister Gordon Brown Faces More Backlash on Human Cloning Bill

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 17, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown Faces More Backlash on Human Cloning Bill Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 17
, 2008

London, England ( — British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is facing more backlash on the embryo bill that would allow the cloning of humans with animal DNA infused. He’s already faced a rebellion from Catholic MPs upset he won’t allow a free vote and now MPs from Scotland have started a backlash as well.

At least half of the Labour Party MPs from Scotland plan on voting against the bill even though Brown has only allowed dissenting MPs to abstain from voting on it.

Scots Secretary Des Browne, a member of the government could also join the group of Scottish MPs who plan to vote against the measure.

The Daily record newspaper said one MP, which it did not name, indicated he had received 1,000 letters from people opposed to the cloning bill and asking him to vote against it.

"There is a lot of strong feeling among MPs and a lot of resentment. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a substantial rebellion," the MP said.

Chief Whip Geoff Hoon indicated the pro-life lawmakers who are members of the Labour Party are free to not vote on the bill. However, he said if they vote against it they risk losing their place in government.

That’s important because three British cabinet ministers, including Ruth Kelly, Des Browne and Paul Murphy, have voiced objections to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill.

None of the pro-life officials have said publicly what they will do about the tenuous situation.

But Greg Pope, Labour MP for Hyndburn, told the BBC that abstaining on the bill is not an option.

"I have had hundreds of letters from constituents about human-animal hybrids," he said.

"The idea that I turn round to them and say the Chief Whip has given me the day off from voting will cut no ice at all."

On the other side of the equation, Conservative Party leader David Cameron has given his MPs a free vote on the entire bill.

Helen Watt, director of the Linacre Centre, joined the rising chorus of pro-life advocates who have slammed the Labour Party for not allowing a conscience vote on the bill as it typically does on abortion issues.

"MPs of all parties should have the courage to vote against the bill, and in favor of amendments to remove its most destructive aspects," she told the BBC.

Meanwhile, a top British pro-life coalition, the Alive and Kicking campaign, plans to launch a new web site and is planning a thorough educational campaign to tell pro-life Britons how their MPs voted on the cloning bill and possible amendments to it to reduce late-term abortions.

"Members of the public will for the first time be able to look and see what their MP’s views are and how they have voted," the group told the London Daily Mail. "They can then bring pressure to bear. The aim is to make MPs’ individual voting records an issue, just as it is for American politicians."

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.

Related web sites:
Alive and Kicking campaign –