For reasons of belief and doctrine some religious groups and individuals – some Christians in particular – attempt to restrict the use of human tissues such as embryonic stem cells for scientific research, impeding medical progress.
We want the primary ethical consideration in scientific matters to be benefit to human beings so that research, such as stem cell research, can yield the maximum return in terms of technologies and treatments for diseases.
In 2008, religious campaigners attempted to have the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill amended to legislate against treating same-sex couples equally to heterosexual couples in access to fertility treatment, to reduce the number of weeks into pregnancy that women are able to access abortion and to restrict stem cell research. The Roman Catholic Church in particular lobbyied very hard on this Bill using emotive misinformation about its contents and aims and putting pressure on Catholic MPs to follow the Church’s, rather than the Government’s, position.
In May 2008, a number of amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill on ‘ethical’ issues were debated and voted against in the House of Commons, reflecting the rational, scientific and ethical approach to these matters by the majority of MPs. Despite this, religious opponents of the Bill have vowed to continue to lobby, in particular aiming to have the abortion time-limit lowered and eventually banning abortion in the UK.
Any research using human tissues should be based on scientific evidence and facts, taking into account ethical considerations, such as the quality of life of the individual person.
What are we doing?
The BHA lobbied on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, to bust the myths about the Bill spread by the religious lobby and set out our position on a range of issues including: the sex selection of embryos; the use of inter-species embryos for scientific research; parenthood in artificial fertilisation; and abortion. We will continue to lobby government on these and other related issues, aiming to ensure any amendments to current legislation or any new legislation in this area are based on scientific evidence and not religious dogma.
What can you do?
The BHA consults with its members on the subjects of human tissues, embryo research, abortion, fertility, and many other scientific and ethical issues. We welcome your comments on these subjects, which help us to form our campaigns.
You can support the BHA by becoming a member. That helps in itself, and you can help even more by supporting our campaigns in the ways suggested above. But campaigns also cost money – quite a lot of money – and we also need financial support. You can make a donation to the BHA.