HFE Bill is passed in the Commons

The British Humanist Association (BHA) welcomed the Commons voting with a large majority last night to pass the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill but expressed disappointment that MPs did not get a chance to vote on further amendments on abortion.

Naomi Phillips, Public Affairs Officer, said, ‘’We, with help from our members and supporters, have supported this Bill for both scientific and ethical reasons and we provided MPs and Peers with briefings, countering the scaremongering and misinformation about the Bill from vociferous religious lobbies.’

‘The UK is a world leader in the groundbreaking science of stem cell research and Parliamentarians have now voted to update the law in light of medical and scientific developments and to maintain the tightly regulated environment for embryo research.

We are delighted that the abortion law will not be watered down, that there will be an end to discrimination against lesbians in fertility treatment and a ban to sex selection of embryos for non-medical reasons.’

‘However’, she continued, ‘We are very disappointed that the Government did not allow MPs to vote on a number of amendments which would have liberalised the law on abortion. Importantly, one amendment would have extended the law to Northern Ireland , giving women the same rights to access free and safe abortions. Control over abortion will now soon be devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly – so it seems likely that Northern Irish women will continue to be second class citizens compared with women in the rest of the UK for the foreseeable future.’

Notes

For more information contact Naomi Phillips on 020 7079 3585.

The British Humanist Association (BHA) is the national charity representing and supporting the non-religious and campaigning for an end to religious privilege and discrimination based on religion or belief. T he BHA contributes to debate on a wide range of ethical issues from stem cell research to sex education, and acts as a unique watchdog and lobbying organisation.