Cardinal: UK Legislation like Nazi Eugenics
The Edinburgh Cardinal said that the implications of the new law were “grotesque”, “horrifying” and “nightmarish”
Schedule 3 of the bill “enshrines the concept of ‘presumed consent’ in UK law,” the cardinal observed, meaning that the bill would allow the removal of tissue from mentally incapacitated adults or children, without their specific consent. This tissue would then be used to create cloned animal-human hybrid or other embryos. This provision was ensured by an amendment, agreed upon by an all-party committee of only 17 MPs after the main parliamentary debates.
“I am appalled that you are promoting a Bill which seeks, by stealth, to create a regime where extracting tissue and cells from human beings no longer requires their consent or involvement,” Cardinal O’Brien wrote.
The cardinal’s reference to the Nazis derives from the aims of the eugenics programs that foreshadowed the Holocaust. Under the pre-war Nazi eugenics programs, and later during the war, incapacitated and mentally ill patients as well as those interned in concentration camps, were used as experimental test subjects without their consent. In response to these atrocities, the post-war Nuremberg Code was adopted by all western countries to ensure that consent was the first consideration made when using human beings as test subjects in medical and scientific research.
“The proposals in this Bill,” the cardinal said, “represent a breach of 50 years of ethical medical research.They by-pass the Declaration of Helsinki, the Human Tissue Act, the Mental Capacity Act and the Human Rights Act. Removing parts of people’s bodies without their consent utterly flies in the face of all BMA and GMC guidance on consent to research.”
Referring to the post-war revelations of Nazi medical atrocities, the Cardinal said, “The hideous savagery of their experiments convinced the civilized world that such practices must be outlawed forever.
Among the bill’s provisions is also one that allows the reclamation of ova from aborted female babies. Children created from these recovered ova would be the offspring of people killed before they were born. The cardinal said, “The grotesque implications of these procedures are utterly horrifying.”
The cardinal pointed to the public consultation on such practises conducted by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority that surveyed 9,000 respondents, 83.2 per cent of whom opposed the practice involving aborted female babies, “and even the few in favour underlined the necessity of consent.”
“I am staggered that you would endorse legislation, which describes the creation of embryos from a person without their consent as 'non-invasive' and which enshrines the concept of ‘presumed consent’ in UK law.”
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