God and the Embryo: Religious Voices on Stem Cells and Cloning

By Brent Waters; Ronald Cole-Turner | Go to book overview

APPENDIX G
A Theologian's Brief on the Place of the
Human Embryo within the Christian
Tradition, and the Theological Principles
for Evaluating Its Moral Status

Submitted to the House of Lords Select Committee on Stem Cell Research by an ad hoc group of Christian theologians from the Anglican, Catholic, Orthodox and Reformed traditions.


Basis of this Submission

1. In a multi-cultural and multi-religious society, it is appropriate to take account not only of secular arguments concerning the place of the human embryo but also of arguments expressed in the religious language of some sections of the community. It is particularly important to understand the Christian tradition in this regard because of the place Christianity has had in shaping the moral understanding of many citizens in this country, and because this tradition has already been invoked in the context of public debate.1

2. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Research Purposes) Regulations 2001 greatly expand the purposes for which research using human embryos can take place, and thus, if implemented, will inevitably lead to a massive increase in the use and destruction of embryos. The Select Committee has expressed its wish not “to review the underlying basis of the 1990 Act”;2 however, the ethical and legal issues surrounding “the Regulations as they now stand” cannot adequately be addressed without considering the moral status of the human embryo. Similarly, the “regulatory framework established by the 1990 Act” cannot operate effectively if it is flawed in principle.

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