ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network
Date:  29 November 2000


Item on the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland's opposition to UK cloning of embryos, as the British Government is poised to cross the human cloning threshold by becoming the first country to allow and finance human embryo cloning.

For more on human genetics see:
See also: European Union ethics panel report + press release on embryo cloning, as
pdf files.

news article: Embryo cloning for research is "premature," warns EU

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BBC Online UK: Scotland 27 November 2000

Churchman attacks cloning as 'immoral' - Cardinal Winning is against embryo research

The leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland has repeated his opposition to the use of cloning for medical research. Cardinal Thomas Winning was speaking ahead of a Commons debate on regulations which would extend the Human Embryology and Fertilisation Act 1990. MPs and peers will be given a free vote on the new regulations which Cardinal Winning said would "pave the way" for designer babies. If approved, they would allow human embryos to be used for stem cell research, which could lead to new treatments for Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis,
spinal cord injuries, Alzheimer's and insulin dependent diabetes. But Cardinal Winning said that even though the "end is good", the "means are immoral" as they resulted in the death of "tiny cloned human beings".

He warned: "This scenario will become reality in a matter of months unless we waken up. The churchman also expressed "alarm" that the issue would only be debated for 90 minutes  in Parliament. It could take place as early as Tuesday.

'Pariah state' The UK would become a "pariah" state if it allowed human embryos to be cloned, he predicted.

"Opponents of cloning will have just 30 minutes to halt this descent into madness - 30 minutes to stop the UK  becoming the pariah state of Europe," he said. However, the cardinal rejected claims that this was another example of the church being backward-looking and out of step with popular opinion. He said: "I wish science was more advanced too, so it hurts me when people paint the
church as being somehow anti-progress. "In fact, I look upon any medical or scientific progress as if God were opening up the secrets  of creation for our benefit. The truth is, research is not
 a problem for us. How it is done is the problem."

Westminster Health Minister Yvette Cooper has promised a free vote for MPs and peers on any new legislation. But she has ruled out the production of human embryo clones being allowed for reproductive purposes and promised tight control of any new procedures. "It is absolutely untrue that these regulations will give the go-ahead for reproductive cloning. Reproductive cloning is illegal. It  will stay illegal," she said.

[Entered November 28, 2000]

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