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Embryos legal challenge

9th April 2008

A legal challenge is being launched to try to overturn a decision to licence scientists to create human-animal hybrid embryos.

Embryo

Teams from Newcastle University and King’s College London have been given permission to create the embryos for medical research but a Christian organisation – which includes doctors and lawyers among its members - is now attempting to block this.

The Christian Legal Centre believes that legislation dating from 1990 does not permit the process and is claiming that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority acted beyond its powers and granting of the licence was consequently illegal.

The organisation is to try to get the licences overturned by the High Court, although researchers at Newcastle have already produced a human-animal embryo.

The move comes as proposals to allow scientists to grow human stem cells inside animal eggs are contained in legislation currently going through Parliament.

The legislation is controversial and the Catholic Church and Catholic Labour MPs want a free vote on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. Prime Minister Gordon Brown has compromised and will allow his MPs a free vote on the most controversial parts of the bill, in line with the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

The legal challenge is jointly sponsored by the campaigning group Comment on Reproductive Ethics, which said human-animal embryos were “neither necessary or desirable.?

But Dr Evan Harris, Liberal Democrat Science spokesman and member of the Commons science and technology select committee, said the legal challenge had no foundation and that such research was permissible under the current legislation.

 

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