Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill - Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor
posted on 25 March 2008
Following an announcement by Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, (Tuesday 25th March 2008) that Labour MPs are to be given a free vote on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, the following statement has been made by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor and Archbishop Peter Smith, chair of the Bishops’ Conference department for Citizenship and Responsibility.
'We welcome this afternoon’s announcement from the prime minister who, having carefully considered the representations made to him by many people, has decided that there will be a free vote on three key areas of the HFE Bill. The free vote will be welcomed by people of all faiths or none who are concerned about the implications of this Bill that go to the heart of what it means to be human.'
'Scientific research into the potential treatment and cure of various diseases is both welcome and necessary. There have been exciting developments in research using adult stem cells that do not involve the deliberate creation and destruction of human life, or the mixing of human and animal life. It is surely possible to achieve the good ends pursued by this research without recourse to ethically questionable means.'
'As a society we need to discuss and debate the ethical limits of scientific research in the interests of the common good of humanity. This is why we have asked for a national bio-ethics committee, common to other countries, to act as the focal point for discussion and advice on these matters. '
'But clearly the debate on these important issues will continue both within and outside Parliament over the coming weeks and months.'
Sky News interview
In an interview broadcast over the 2008 Easter weekend by Sky News, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor asked that MPs be allowed a free vote on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. He said:
'I think Catholics in politics have got to act according to their Catholic convictions, so have other Christians, so have other politicians.
'There are Catholics who feel very strongly about this matter and I am glad that they do.
'Certainly, there are some aspects of this Bill on which I believe there ought to be a free vote, because Catholics and others will want to vote according to their conscience.
'I don't think it should be subject to the party whip.'