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12 / 05 / 2008 - Opposing HFE Bill will Preserve Fundamental Integrity of Humanity - Mark Durkan SDLP
SDLP Leader and Foyle MP Mark Durkan MLA said opposing the Human Fertilisation and Embryology goes to the heart of human values and the protection of life
Speaking before the Bill comes before the House of Commons tomorrow, Mr Durkan has written to all Westminster MPs to state his opposition to any attempts to extend the 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland.
He said: “This is a controversial bill with some welcome provisions but with many seriously worrying elements.
“For example it will allow the production of animal-human hybrids for the purpose of scientific research.
“In voicing our concerns at these elements does not mean we are taking an anti-science stance. Instead we are seeking to preserve the fundamental integrity of humanity by laying down a marker that we will not tolerate scientific joy-riding.
“Furthermore, the bill goes out of its way to state that some children will have absolutely no right to know their father. I cannot support a bill which attempts to con biology by deliberately creating children in a way that eradicates any notion or trace of their father.
“While the Fertilisation and Embryology Bill is not specifically about abortion, it is clear that amendments to this bill in the Commons will have implications for existing abortion law.
“These will fall into three categories. First, some MPs have already signalled their intention to table amendments to extend the 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland.
“Second, there will be amendments from other members seeking to reduce the term limit for abortions in Britain from 24 weeks to 20 weeks. As a member of the All-Parliamentary Pro-life Group, I will be supporting such an amendment The third issue was is the current British abortion law has no term-limit on abortions on grounds of 'foetal abnormality'. This means that an abortion can be performed up to birth because of a child's disability.
“Records show that this is a widely-used basis for abortions and has even included cases of cleft palates.
“Therefore, now is the time for criminal justice powers to be devolved to the local assembly so we do not become victims of those in Westminster who are more concerned with their own agendas, than the good of the people here.
“I have lobbied for a free vote on the entire bill. All MPs should be entitled to vote as their conscience informs them. I have given a limited welcome by the decision by Gordon Brown to allow a free vote on three clauses. However, this calculated concession will require those who vote against these clauses in a free vote to then park their conscience in voting for the whole bill later on, if they are accepted in the free vote. At a time when the Prime Minister says that he intends to strengthen the hand of Parliament in important matters such as declaring war, he should recognise that the free will of MPs should also be respected in this bill.
“It also goes to the heart of human values and the protection of human life.”
Source : SDLP