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UK’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill withstands all challenges

Wednesday, 21 May, 2008

Good news from the motherland – the British House of Commons has rejected all amendments to the bill, including:

  • reducing the abortion limit to 22 (rejected 304-233) or 20 weeks (rejected 322-190) from the current 24 week limit
  • removing the permission to create human-animal hybrid embryos (rejected 336-176)
  • changing the language to affirm a child’s “need for a father” (rejected 292-217) or “need for a male role model” (rejected 290-222) instead of the current “need for supportive parenting”
  • prohibition on the creation of ‘saviour siblings’, which would be children selected as embryos for tissue that matches an existing child with a severe illness (rejected 342-163) or only for life-threatening illnesses (rejected 318-149)

So, no changes. The only change that was approved occurred a few months ago, when deafness was removed from the list of serious illnesses, which would have required parents to choose an embryo free of deafness (and some deaf parents didn’t like that).

So far, so good. Brilliant in fact. I would have liked to see those numbers a little less tight, and a little more in favour of science, but I guess an inch is as good as a mile when you win.

Now, all that remains is for the whole bill to be passed. And from the looks of it, it will be. Hurrah!

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