Stem-Cell Bank Proposal Assailed in Britain

Pro-lifers Say Parents Have No Right to Let Offspring Be Destroyed

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LONDON, AUG. 28, 2002 (Zenit.org).- A pro-life group assailed the Medical Research Council's plans to set up the world's first stem-cell bank and to ask for donations of "excess embryos" from women who undergo in-vitro fertilization.



The British Department of Health confirmed that the bank will include human cells from embryos as well as those from adults. Some scientists think that the study of human embryo cells could allow the development of new treatments for a vast range of diseases, including diabetes.

But officials of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children were aghast. "This development provides yet more proof that the advent of IVF has led to a terrible commodification of human life," Dominic Baster of SPUC said in a statement.

"Keeping surplus IVF embryos in frozen storage is unethical in the first place, and the extraction of their stem cells can never be ethical because it entails their destruction," he said.

The Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority has been working with the Medical Research Council to draw up consent forms for women to donate embryos.

Professor Richard Gardner, who chairs the Royal Society committee on stem-cell research, admitted it was impossible to say whether stem cells from embryos or adults would ultimately prove more successful in treating disease, the Times Online reported.

Prime Minister Tony Blair has already pledged to make Britain the "best place in the world" for research on stem cells.

But SPUC's Baster insisted: "The parents have no right to consent to their offspring being plundered and destroyed in this way. Each and every embryo is a precious, individual human person."