The Church of Scotland today called for the special status of the human embryo to continue to be guarded.
Senior Minister Ian Galloway, Convener of the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland urged caution in proposed changes to the regulation of medical research, which may lead to more human embryos being used in research. Under changes likely to be proposed by the Rawlins report, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) would be scrapped. The HFEA was set up following the 1984 Warnock report, to regulate research and other aspects of assisted human reproduction, such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF).
Mr Galloway said: “At present, the HFEA considers proposed research involving human embryos, while research on animal embryos is regulated through other agencies. We are concerned that if the regulation of research on human embryos is handed to a more general body, the special status of the embryo recognised in law will be further eroded. This special status is a fundamental principle laid down the Warnock report, and prevents human embryos from being used in routine research.”
The General Assembly of the Kirk in 2006 approved a major report from the Society, Religion and Technology project which urged the government:
“…not to weaken the provisions of the UK legislative framework on embryology, and to ensure that in any future legislation the concept of the special status of the human embryo be maintained and protected.”