MPs Approve Human Embryo Research

Article excerpt

MPs last night gave the go-ahead for controversial research on human embryos after Government assurances that it did not represent a 'slippery slope' to cloning people.

After an impassioned debate and despite fierce opposition from pro-life campaigners, the Commons voted by 366 to 174 to permit stem cell research on embryos up to 14 days old.

The issue was settled on a free vote, enabling MPs to vote according to their consciences rather than along straight party lines.

It followed strong assurances from Public Health Minister Yvette Cooper that human cloning would remain illegal.

Ms Cooper said the research could hold 'the key to healing within the human body' - giving hope not only to those suffering from degenerative diseases but also cancer and heart disease victims.

But leading opponent of the move, Conservative Ann Winterton (Congleton) said it was a 'cruel hoax' to claim that voting against the regulations was tantamount to depriving the sick of a cure.

Tony Blair and Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott voted in favour of embryo research. Tory leader William Hague voted against.

Scientists and patient charities queued up to welcome the MPs' decision, pointing out that embryonic stem cells grown in the laboratory could potentially provide an unlimited source of replacement body tissue. …