Gordon Brown is wrong. He is wrong to promote a Bill that will allow the creation of animal human hybrid embryos. He is wrong to add to the 2.2 million human embryos already destroyed or experimented upon. Wrong to create babies whose sole purpose will be to provide, without consent, parts of their organs or tissues. Wrong to sanction the raiding of dead people tissues to manufacture yet more embryos for experimentation. Wrong to deny that a child has a biological father. Wrong to tamper with birth certificates, removing biological parents, and inserting someone altogether different; and wrong to change the law removing the already very modest statement that a child has "a need of a father. Wrong, also to have opposed the equally modest proposal of Lord (Dan) Brennan and Baroness (Shirley) Williams that a new National Bio-ethics Commission should be created to give advice to Parliament and the public about the many complex issues raised by bio-ethics. If Gordon Brown is wrong about all this, he is also profoundly wrong to have introduced a Bill that he and his health Minister, ardent abortion rights campaigner, Dawn Primarollo, know will be used to further extend the abortion laws. These are not trivial questions. These issues strike at the very heart of what it is to be human. They deeply offend the sensibilities of many decent people. There are questions here about human rights, about human dignity and the common good. In some other European jurisdictions you could be sent to jail for ten years for doing what we intend to make legal. Gordon Brown is said to be a cautious and prudent man. Has he made no assessment of the public reaction there will be against him if he pushes these measures through? In some constituencies it will cost him 4-5%, in others even more; but it's not just about a loss of votes. Gordon Brown is also said to care about the reputation of Parliament and politics. Has he no understanding of the indignation felt by so many people that the traditional rights of MPs to follow their consciences on these questions have mostly been withdrawn? It is entirely without precedent for a Bill of this nature to be rail-roaded through Parliament on a three line whip, with MPs being denied the right to vote in line with their beliefs. The courageous MP for Middleton, Labour's Jim Dobbin, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Pro-Life Committee, recently described how the Whips had told MPs like him who passionately oppose this Bill just to be absent on the day. That, said Jim Dobbin, would be a dereliction of duty, advice which he for one would take no notice of. What are the public to make of advice to MPs to collect their pay and allowances but simply make themselves scarce when these issues are debated? Writing as a former Chief Whip of a political party who resigned from his Party when he was told that abortion was to be made a party policy I guess I can say with some feeling that it is precisely this sort of ideological bullying that is driving people away from politics and creating an aura of cynicism and alienation. Nor as he uses his political machine to push through proposals that have never enjoyed public support, should the Prime Minister pretend that these measures enjoy public support. These proposals weren't in the Election Manifesto; there is no mandate for them. How many Government Ministers can you recall promising that if elected they would promote animal human hybrid embryos and the rest? Even Gordon Brown's own Government appointed body the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority which includes in its membership no-one who believes in the sanctity of human life from conception has admitted that public opinion does not support their proposals. Their survey found that 48 per cent of UK residents disagreed with scientists creating an embryo that contains mostly human with a small amount of animal genetic material purely for research, compared with only 34 per cent who agreed. 47 per cent "nearly half"agreed that creating embryos for research with mostly human, and a small amount of animal genetic material, concerned them. They said that it was meddling with nature. Nearly half"49 per cent"agreed that creating embryos for research with mostly human and a small amount of animal genetic material, concerned them because of what scientists might want to do next in research. Just over two-fifths"some 41 per cent"agreed that creating embryos for research with mostly human and a small amount of animal genetic material concerned them because they thought that it might be put into a woman or an animal, even though that was against the law. And in case the Prime Minister is in any doubt, he would be welcome to attend any of the Passionforlife rallies that have been taking place throughout the United Kingdom in Glasgow, Belfast, Liverpool, London, Cardiff, Southampton, Coventry and other locations and see the thousands of people who feel real indignation about what he is doing. It is the received wisdom of politicians that "the day of public meetings is over". Perhaps that is because of the sort of things politicians have to say! Thousands who have attended these rallies and they have taken away nearly half a million protest postcards. I cannot recall a grass roots campaign like this one for many years. Ann Widdecombe MP has been on sparkling form and has been right to say that the meetings have been rousing the conscience of the nation. The meetings have had another unexpected effect and outcome. When ordinary people as well as political leaders, bishops and Archbishops are forced to walk a gauntlet of abuse as placard waving protestors have sought to intimidate and shout them down, it cannot have helped the Prime Minister,s cause. As another courageous MP, Geraldine Smith, said to those who were letting off rape alarms, shouting obscenities and trying to prevent the exercise of free speech at Westminster Central Hall, "this isn't doing your cause very much good. One young woman who attended that meeting wrote to me to say that she expected to attend "a dull but worthy event. I went away shocked and determined." Yes, Gordon Brown should,attend some of these meetings, and take a good look at those who support his proposals and at those who don't. He might even find time to listen to some of the well made arguments and anxieties, which to date have been dismissed out of hand. Before he subjugates consciences and suborns Parliament, the Prime Minister should act decisively and now do what is right. Three more PassionForLife rallies opposing the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill will be held this week Tuesday in Wales, in Cardiff, Wednesday in East Anglia, in Cambridge, and Thursday in the West Country, at Torbay. Tuesday 4th March: Cardiff: The City Temple, Cowbridge Road East: at 7.30pm Wednesday 5th March: Cambridge St Andrews Street Baptist Church at 7.30pm Thursday 6th March: Torbay St Paul's Church, Preston, Paignton at 7.30pm Details and extra bundles of protest post cards from 01925 220999 or 0203 1760032 or email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, www.passionforlife.org.uk . There's an on-line petition at Downing Street calling for a free vote: to sign go to http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/embryovote This article is a forthcoming column for The Universe newspaper.
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