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Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Embryology Bill: the debate continues

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill gets a second day of debate. Today it's abortion. Yesterday it was saviour siblings and hybrid-embryo research. The Commons rejected a ban on the former, and backed the latter. I agree with embryo research, in principle, and have mixed feelings about saviour siblings. But there were cases put for both sides of that argument in the chamber, and interesting points made.

"[A] cross-party attempt to ban hybrid human animal embryos was defeated on a free vote, by 336 to 176," says this BBC story. (The site also has an interesting Q&A on the hybrid question.)

On abortion, the Health Minister Dawn Primarolo says there is no evidence requiring a change in the abortion laws to be changed. "There is no science that shows us that the survival rates have changed since we took the decision to have the time limit at 24 weeks," she says.

A Conservative MP, Nadine Dorries, who tabled the amendment to change the abortion time limit, believes the right of a woman to choose has its limits. "If a baby feels pain as part of a barbaric abortion process," she said, "which is what happens post-twenty weeks, and if we know that baby could live if it was allowed to be born, then there comes the point when that baby has rights which are of equal parity to the mother's."

MPs are also set to vote later on the role of fathers in IVF, which of course affects the fate of lesbian couples who want to have babies with IVF.

Many of the objections to many aspects of the Bill have come from Catholic MPs and others of a religious bent.

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