The row over the Human Embryology Bill has angered me into breaking my month long blogging hiatus.
This bill is one of the most exciting and dramatic to come before parliament in recent times. If passed, it will allow gay and lesbian couples to have children of their own; it will allow the lives of children suffering terminal conditions to be saved; it will become a shimmering beacon of hope to those suffering from terrible, debilitating, life threatening conditions. Three astonishing achievements past generations have only dreamed of.
There are a few things we, or more specifically a small number of MPs, will have to come to terms with first.
The first is the notion that children can function normally and grow up happily without heterosexual parents; that homosexual couples can love a child and provide it with the same life chances despite their orientation.
The second question is whether it is acceptable to create a human life to save another. There are conditions faced by children that can sometimes only be helped if a sibling is born, without the condition and with the right genes to provide cells that can help the original child. Is it right to select one unconscious, unthinking foetus over another, to be developed and to be born, to be loved by its parents and have every chance in life that the rest of us do- and in making this choice, to save the life of another child?
The final question is one that has been misrepresented, twisted by certain church leaders and misunderstood by so many. It is not one of creating human-animal hybrids; it is one of housing human DNA inside the empty shell of an egg provided by an animal for a period of six days, and then, once experiments have been conducted, destroying it.
Are these three things acceptable? To my mind, yes. To the minds of a number of religious leaders and MPs, no. The media reports that the MPs opposing the Human Embryology Bill are largely Catholic. I am a staunch atheist, but I spent five years in a CofE school being taught of Christianity, and I think in that time I just about got the gist of it. What I have been taught of Christianity, from the believers, vicars and such who lead our daily assemblies and the countless New Testament stories we were required to study, is that Christianity is about giving a shit about other people; about putting others before yourself, no matter what, and about making the world a better place. I cannot see how any of the three questions I have raised, if given an affirmative answer, would contravene this. All would bring an end to suffering and bring untold joy to millions of people, at absolutely no cost to anything but <insert Catholic MP’s name>’s nagging sense of doubt that they might not make it to heaven.
No monster hybrids would be created; surely the pig insulin given to diabetics and the corpses people shove into their bodies in the name of food are no worse? No child would suffer because they were selected over another embryo; on the contrary, lives and suffering will be spared. No child would grow up a moral delinquent from having same-sex parents; there are far worse happily married heterosexual parents out there.
If the Catholics have got it right and God both exists and wants us to oppose this bill, then Christianity is clearly not the bastion of neighborliness and love that I was taught about. I’m disappointed that a free vote was even needed and sincerely hope that when MPs do “vote with their conscience”, it will be in the ecstatic knowledge that they are saving bringing joy to millions at no cost to any other.