Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill
Press release Issued by the Catholic Communications Network
19th February 2008
Now is the time for our voices to be heard on Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, says the Cardinal.
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor has sent out a pastoral message to Catholics in England and Wales encouraging them to write to their MPs about the "profound questions of human life and dignity" posed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.
The Bill has completed its passage through the House of Lords and will be debated in the House of Commons in the coming weeks. It extends the scope of scientific research on human embryos and allows the creation of animal and human hybrid embryos for research. It removes a provision to have regards for the child's need for a father when IVF methods are used. Attempts to liberalise the abortion law further are also expected.
The Cardinal said: "Many people of all faiths and none are deeply concerned by the moral questions raised by this Bill. Now is the time for our voices to be heard."
"Taking action on this pressing issue now helps to remind us that our Christian witness can never just be personal but involves us too as citizens committed to serving the common good of society and to upholding the human dignity of all."
Here is the Pastoral message from Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor President of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales in full:
Dear brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ,
As you will know, there is a Bill currently in Parliament which touches on profound questions of human life and dignity. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill has just completed its passage through the House of Lords and will be debated in the House of Commons in the next few weeks.
The Bill extends the scope of scientific research on human embryos and even allows the creation of animal and human hybrid embryos for research. It removes a provision to have regard for the child's need for a father when IVF methods are used. And there is every chance that there will be attempts in the House of Commons to use this Bill as a vehicle to liberalise the abortion law still further.
Many people of all faiths and none are deeply concerned by the moral questions raised by this Bill. These concerns were set out in Parish briefings sent to every parish from the Bishops' Conference to all our parishes over the last few weeks. Now is the time for our voices to be heard. This needs as many people as possible to write to - and better still -- to go and see their MP and to register their deep concern about this Bill. Please urge your MP to support amendments to the Bill which would limit embryo research, recognize the need for children to have knowledge of their biological father, and which would reduce rather than increase the numbers of abortions. MPs should also request and be granted a free vote on those parts of this Bill which deals with fundamental issues of personal conscience.
During this time of Lent we are encouraged to reflect on our own lives and to rededicate ourselves as Christians to serving the Gospel in our world. Taking action on this pressing issue now helps to remind us that our Christian witness can never just be personal but involves us too as citizens committed to serving the common good of society and to upholding the human dignity of all.
With my prayers,
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor
Archbishop of Westminster (on behalf of the Bishops of England and Wales)
CATHOLIC BISHOPS' CONFERENCE OF ENGLAND AND WALES - DECEMBER 2007
What is the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill and What Can I Do?
Prepared by St Mary's University College on behalf of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill is a bill going through Parliament at the moment. It is a proposed new law about infertility treatment and about experimentation on human embryos. It raises four key concerns:
1. Hybrids: The Bill will allow scientists to create embryos that are half human, half animal. For example, from the egg of a woman and sperm from an animal. To do this would be a radical violation of human dignity.
2. The Welfare of the Child: At present, infertility clinics have to consider the 'need of a child for a father'. The Bill will remove the reference to a father. The Bill will also make it easier to use women as `surrogate mothers'. The law should give recognition to fathers and encourage fathers to take responsibility for their children. The Bill needs to recognise the natural right of the child to a mother and a father.
3. How Future Decisions are Made: At present, decisions are made by an unelected and unrepresentative body. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority appears to exclude people who cherish human life from conception. The government should be urged to create a statutory National Bioethics Commission with a broad spectrum of experts including people from faith communities.
4. Abortion: The Bill does not mention abortion, but some Members of Parliament have already said that they want to amend the law to make abortion more easily available. Others may propose amendments to limit abortion. Any change in the law should aim to make abortion rarer and to give greater recognition to the unborn child.
What you can do
The proposed Bill raises deep questions about what it is to be human, about the role of fathers and mothers and the needs of children, and about how ethical decisions are made. The Bill may be used as a vehicle to make abortion more common. The Bill will be passed in the name of all citizens and if you do not speak out about it then your silence will be taken as consent. Please write to your MP and get involved in whatever your parish is doing about the Bill.
Write to: MP at House of Commons, London, SW1 A OAA.
Or email your MP at www.writetothem.com
What should I write?
Whether you are writing a letter or an email, write something in your own words. Say why you are concerned about this Bill. You do not have to mention every issue. It may be more effective if different people write on different aspects of the Bill. You should write about what concerns you most. Please remember to be polite and courteous. We will make no friends or allies by being rude or aggressive.
There is more information on the Bill at www.catholicchurch.org.uk
Catholic Trust for England and Wales
You can also register your protest by way of an e-petition >
The actual wording of the petition is "We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to allow free votes on the embryology and fathers components of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill when considered by the House of Commons."
The deadline for recording your name on the e-petition is 13th May 2008. But don't leave until then - register your protest NOW!