Cardinal O’Brien: Labour are like the Nazis
The letter to Mr Brown (whom he addresses by his Christian name), speaks of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill as being ‘misguided’ and ‘potentially most harmful’. He complains that Schedule 3 (which ‘provides for taking tissue from incapacitated adults and children without their consent for the express purpose of creating embryos for research’) ‘has never been properly discussed in Parliament’.
Cranmer believes this was a focus in the House of Lords debate yesterday.
The Cardinal continues:
‘Should this Bill become law, removing tissue from incapacitated adults or children, without their specific consent in order to create animal-human hybrid or other embryos would be permissible, as would creating artificial sperm or artificial eggs from bone marrow or even cord blood.
‘The grotesque implications of these procedures are utterly horrifying. The proposals in this Bill 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.
‘Such behaviour was last seen under the Nazis. Following the liberation of the concentration camps in 1945, the full horrors of the Nazi’s atrocities were revealed to a shocked world. The hideous savagery of their experiments convinced the civilized world that such practices must be outlawed forever. 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.
‘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. This legislation would set a nightmarish precedent, by allowing scientists to experiment on those lacking capacity - in the absence of explicit consent - largely as they see fit.
‘I urge you to amend Schedule 3 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill as a matter of great urgency and human decency.
‘Yours sincerely in Christ
‘+ Keith Patrick Cardinal O’Brien
Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh’
Now Cranmer wishes to make clear that he too finds the provisions of this Bill utterly repugnant, and has said so consistently since its inception, and has lauded Cardinal O'Brien for his contributions to the debate, with certain qualifications. But he has little time for the histrionic rantings of a cleric who believes that the behaviour of the Government is in any sense akin to that exercised in Nazi concentration camps; indeed, the comparison is insulting to the intelligence and manifestly demeaning to those who endured hell on earth.
But Scotland’s Cardinal has at least grasped some headlines from the Ross/Brand affair. Yet Cranmer would like to ask where is the all-too-quiet voice of England’s Cardinal? Or may now only a Scot rebuke a Scot, for fear of accusations of racism or stirring up English nationalism?
Moreover, where is England’s Archbishop of Canterbury?