YOU and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (2008)
There has been nothing like it for almost 20 years. It is set to dismantle the fundamentals of human dignity, good medicine, family structure and even human life itself. In May 2007, the Government published a draft Bill called, the Human Tissue and Embryos Bill. On Thursday 8 November, it had its first reading in the House of Lords under its new title of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (2008). From November to February, the Upper House has been mauling it – every pro-life amendment vote has been lost. The Bill is now expected to enter the House of Commons after Easter, probably in early April.
This HFE Bill (2008) is primarily an overhaul and updating of the HFE Act (1990). The latter Act, which was the fruit of the Warnock Report (1984), was bad enough with its legalisation of assisted reproductive techniques, destructive embryo experimentation, surrogacy, and so on. But by comparison, this 2008 Bill makes the 1990 Act appear positively restrictive.
So far the HFE Bill (2008) looks set to legalise:
1] the creation of animal-human hybrid embryos – now officially called, 'human admixed embryos'.
2] saviour siblings for ‘serious’ rather than ‘life-threatening’ conditions.
3] sex selection of embryos for 'social' rather than medical reasons, such as ‘family balancing’.
4] the deletion of ‘the need for a father’ in considering the ‘welfare of the child’ prior to IVF treatment.
5] advertising and fees for surrogates to encourage surrogacy.
Furthermore, since the HFE Act (1990) modified the Abortion
Act (1967), amendments to abortion law are likely to be introduced during the
passage of the HFE Bill (2008). As if 200,000 abortions each year in England
and Wales are not enough, some MPs are planning to:
1] increase access to abortion, up to say 13 weeks, with no questions asked.
2] scrap the two doctors’ signature requirement.
3] extend the Act to Northern Ireland.
4] repeal the conscience clause, thereby hunting down pro-life doctors.
5] encourage nurses to oversee chemical abortions.
On the other hand, pro-life MPs are considering amendments
1] a reduction to 20, perhaps even 18 weeks – anything that lessens the slaughter.
2] proper informed consent – rehearsal of the physical and mental risks.
3] a cooling-off period for women, that is, proper counselling.
4] parental involvement for minors (under 16s) considering abortion.
5] a ban on abortions for disability, including cleft palate, club foot, etc.
You can see the stakes are high, very high. If the Bill
succeeds in its present form, human life will not be the same again. But
Christians are not simply to moan about the state of our society and sit on our
hands. We must:
1] Pray about these issues, especially for MPs engaged in the debates.
2] Educate ourselves, our families and our churches about this Bill.
3] Agitate. Be salt and light. Write to, or better still, meet with, our MPs.
4] Care for the disabled, the infertile, the senile, the vulnerable.
5] Join and give to organisations fighting this Bill.
There has rarely been a more pressing time to contact your MP. He or she will be voting on this Bill and most are profoundly uninformed about its contents. I have always encouraged everyone to write to, or preferably meet with, their MP – it can be a grand educative experience! The timid can form a small delegation. And I would never ask anyone to do something I am not prepared to do myself – my wife and I have already been to meet and speak with our MP at Westminster.
To find the name of your MP go to, www.parliament.uk/people/index.cfm. All MPs hold regular ‘surgeries’ and your local newspaper and library will have the details of dates, times and places. Letters can be sent to, The House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA. You can e-mail your MP at, www.writetothem.com. Copy-cat letters, signed postcards and suchlike do not cut much ice at Westminster - it's like junk mail.
If you are unsure what to say, help is at hand. Look at the excellent websites of the Christian Institute (www.christian.org.uk), the Christian Medical Fellowship (www.cmf.org.uk), or the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship (www.lawcf.org). Be brief, polite, firm, but winsome. It is not that difficult - it really is not.
If evangelical Christians will not speak up on these great issues, who will? We were all silent about the 1967 Act. Some of us spoke against the 1990 Act. Now we have the greatest, maybe last, opportunity to defend human life with this 2008 Act. A few thousand visits and letters would begin to make a real difference. One hour of your time is all that is required. So what is your excuse this time?