Right of Reply

The head of the Society, Religion and Technology Project of the Church of Scotland replies to our leading article
Click to follow
The Independent Culture
CLONING EMBRYOS for transplant cells has become the latest medical holy grail. Remarkably, the report of the Human Genetics Advisory Commission and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority fails to discuss whether this is ethical.

It explores why cloning a human being is wrong - although missing the most conclusive ethical argument: that no human being should have the right to control the complete genetic complement of another. It rightly concludes we should say "No" to creating a cloned embryo and allowing it to go on to become a baby. Yet it gives no ethical case to justify creating the same cloned embryo and in effect killing it off for spare parts.

This ultimate aim of the research - to use embryos for such non-reproductive use - raises a profound ethical dilemma. The report only says that it wouldn't change the law very much, and implies that medical possibilities override other considerations. What no one asks is how can it be right to create a cloned embryo, knowing full well you would have to destroy it on ethical grounds to avoid cloning a human?

The HFEA consultation document quotes the Warnock Report that "the human embryo ought to have special status" - restricting embryo use primarily to research on reproduction. If the Government accepts these recommendations, as you want it to, we will de facto have removed the special status. The biggest use, if the proponents are right, will be as sources of spare parts.

We should now begin a nationwide public consultation to find out if as a society - not just the 200 of us who submitted evidence - we agree or disagree with this profound change. Personally, I have my doubts.

Comments