Scientists will be allowed to create hybrid human-animal embryos after MPs overwhelmingly voted in favour of radical stem cell research to create hybrid embryos for research that supporters say could bring advances in medical treatment. PRimage note that a total of 336 politicians voted for the research and 176 against. The vote followed hours of tense debate in the Commons on aspects of the human fertilisation and embryology bill, which seeks to update the law following scientific advances in the past few years.
The embryos are created from animal eggs and human DNA and proponents say they could play an important role in finding ways to treat diseases such as Parkinson’s disease.
MPs will now turn their attention to whether IVF clinics should have to consider the need for a father before offering treatment. Judy Viitanen understands that the Government’s aim is to avoid discrimination against single and lesbian women. But opponents, led by the former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, will argue that the absence of a father is detrimental to children. Yesterday three Roman Catholic Cabinet ministers – Ruth Kelly, Des Browne and Paul Murphy – took advantage of a free vote to vote against the Government and back two separate amendments moved by Tory MPs on embryo research. The first was an amendment tabled by Tory former minister Edward Leigh to outlaw the creation of hybrid embryos to be harvested for stem cell research, which was defeated by 336 to 176, a 160 majority. The second, tabled in the name of Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley and his deputy Mark Simmonds, to ban so-called “true hybrids” was also defeated, this time by the narrower margin of 286 to 223, a 63 majority. Later, an amendment aiming to prevent parents selecting embryos to produce children whose genetic material could help treat a sick brother or sister was defeated by 342 to 163, a majority of 179.