Christian News from Scotland

News stories from Scotland and beyond

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Stem-cell Laws Authorise Murder

THE ethical debate over the role of genetic research has taken a new twist after the Church of Scotland claimed plans to liberalise stem-cell laws would effectively authorise "murder".

The Kirk argues in a new report that human embryos have the same moral status as newborn babies and should not be treated as "research objects".

The report by Donald Bruce, director of the church's science, religion and technology project, says the use of stem-cell research should be "absolutely impermissible".

The Roman Catholic Church has been a long-standing opponent of stem-cell research. However, the opposition of the Kirk, which has taken a more moderate stance on ethical issues, will concern government ministers who support a change to the law.

Ian Gibson, the Labour MP who chaired the Commons select committee on science and technology when it produced a report on the issue last year, said last night that the tone of the Kirk's intervention was "appalling".

Mr Gibson, who holds a PhD in genetics from Edinburgh University, said: "They're trying to scare the public about the nasty, horrible people in white coats, when in fact this research is for the best of medical purposes."

The government proposes to update the law to reflect recent scientific breakthroughs and is conducting a consultation.

The change is expected to license the use of stem-cell research to help cure conditions such as Parkinson's.

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