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Experimentation On Living Embryos Barbaric

6 May 2002

Revelations that scientists are seeking authority from the National Ethics Committee to experiment on ‘unwanted’ live embryos has brought swift condemnation from CHP Party Leader Graham Capill.

Mr Capill asked, “What sort of society have we become when we seek to take live, weak, vulnerable, developing individuals and experiment on them, simply because we think there might be some benefits for other illnesses?

“If this is the only way medicine can find cures for diseases, then it is no advancement at all. It is barbaric, inhumane, and would invoke an even greater outcry if it were done outside the sanctuary of the laboratory.

“The world rightfully condemned the Nazi movement for experimenting on the sick and elderly in Germany. The world did not allow the end to justifying the means. Are scientists in this country no better than the Nazis?” asked Mr Capill

Commenting on the fact that IVF results, themselves, could benefit from such research, as could many other diseases, Mr Capill observed, “There is usually more than one path to solving medical problems. When stem cell research was first introduced, it was suggested that there was a need to use embryonic research to achieve other worthwhile outcomes. Later, however, it was acknowledged that much of the DNA material needed for this research could be found in umbilical cord blood. Rejecting embryonic research at this stage will not close the door to scientific endeavour, it will just mean that science will face the challenge of finding another route to get there.”

Mr Capill also commented on the fact that many of these embryos are said to have reached their ‘self-life’ time frame. Mr Capill pointed out, “Science wrongly created the surplus of embryos because its own IVF programme has had such poor results – the only way to get a resultant pregnancy was to fertilise more eggs than were really desired. Having created the problem, science must find an ethical, humane way to deal with it. Perhaps couples in the IVF programme ought to realise their responsibility to all the embryos they have allowed to be created and be allowed to adopt them out to other childless couples.

“New Zealand cannot expect to have a humane, compassionate society, if it is prepared to do violence to its most vulnerable citizens. It is time the government made a stand, as other nations have, outlawing the destruction of and experimentation on live embryos,” Mr Capill concluded.


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