Monday, October 20, 2008

The UK Continues Its Descent Into Darkness

Today's Daily Telegraph has a story with the headline: "Human tissue could be taken from the infirm without their consent and used for research." The on-going saga of the "Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill," a macabre piece of legislation that appears to confuse Huxley's fictional Brave New World with the Labour Party Platform, takes yet another weird twist as the whole notion of informed consent (a bulwark protecting human rights in medical ethics) is blithely tossed aside by the deep thinkers in the Labour Party. Here is an excerpt:

"On Wednesday MPs will vote on a bill which would allow the creation of human/animal hybrid embryos to be used for stem cell research, change the conditions for granting IVF, and possibly liberalise the abortion laws.

The passage through Parliament of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill has been dogged by controversy. Failed attempts to outlaw late abortion have dominated the debate, while scientists, medical ethics experts and religious leaders have clashed over the hybrid embryo issue.

Defenders of the bill have repeatedly stressed the importance of gaining consent from anyone whose tissue is taken for the creation of human/animal hybrid embryos.

It can now be revealed that a Government amendment, agreed after the main parliamentary debates, would allow tissue to be used from people who lack the "mental capacity" to give consent, children whose parents give permission, and anyone who has previously donated samples to hospitals for medical research but can no longer be traced.

Medical ethics experts and religious leaders are furious that the provisions, which they say ride roughshod over basic human rights, have already been agreed by an all-party committee of 17 MPs charged with scrutinising the bill, without any public debate or discussion in the main chambers of Parliament."

Read the rest here:

But of course the abortion debate doesn't really matter. People who are "fixated" on it are overly narrow and unconcerned about the broader picture. A reader writes in response to this article:

"The first time that non-therapeutic research was allowed, legally, on mentally incapacitated people, without their consent, happened in Germany, some time in the 30s. The head of the German government in those days was a small guy from the Austrian Innviertel going by the strange name Adolf Hitler. Mind you, I'm all for research, but there is a border that must not be crossed, because, we've been there once before."

Must we go there again?

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