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CHOOSING A BABY'S SEX: THE REVOLT GROWS
UK DAILY MAIL
Thu Mar 24 2005 21:07:23 ET
CHURCH LEADERS HEADED FURIOUS CRITICISM LAST NIGHT OF A 'FRANKENSTEIN' REPORT ON FERTILITY LAWS. MPS ON A COMMONS COMMITTEE CALLED FOR A MAJOR RELAXATION OF THE RULES, WHICH WOULD include letting IVF couples choose their baby's sex.
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the head of Britain's six million Roman Catholics, was backed by Church of England and Jewish leaders as he expressed 'deep alarm'. The Chief Rabbi, Dr Jonathan Sacks, said it would be 'a step along the road to turning children from persons into products'.
The leaders spoke out as a political row raged over the report of the Science and Technology committee. It said couples should also have the right to create tissue-matched, genetically-screened 'saviour siblings' to help seriously-ill children.
Scientists should be allowed to create embryonic hybrids of humans and animals for research, while research involving cloned human embryos should be allowed to continue, as long as they were destroyed at 14 days.
The committee called for the watchdog Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to be scrapped, along with the key rule that fertility clinics must consider the welfare of any potential child before providing treatment.
Half the ten MPs on the committee refused to put their names to the report, however, saying they fundamentally disagreed with conclusions which ignored the dignity of human life.
Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor said Britain needed a National Bioethics Commission to consider the moral and ethical implications of scientific developments.
'I am deeply alarmed at this utilitarian report,' he said. 'It shows scant awareness that it is dealing with fundamental issues of respect for human life. I welcome the comments of those members who have dissented from its findings. We need a far broader public debate about these vital questions, which touch on the very origin and sanctity of life.'
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