The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has been criticised for laying claim to the right to licence the creation of animal-human hybrid embryos for research purposes. The Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship and other groups point out that the decision comes only weeks after the Joint Committee considering the upcoming Human Tissue and Embryo (Draft) Bill recommended the issue should be put to a free vote in both Houses of Parliament.
The HFEA are being criticised for making this decision before any parliamentary debate and vote has had the opportunity to take place.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, Public Policy Director at the LCF said: ‘In making this decision the HFEA have completely usurped the democratic process. A Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament have just finished reviewing this very issue, having considered thousands of pages of evidence and hours of oral evidence in the process. Their conclusion was that this is a complex and controversial issue and should be put to a free vote in both Houses of Parliament.
‘For an un-elected body like the HFEA to declare, only weeks later, that they have made the decision themselves is a shocking abuse of power and should be of great concern to a society that believes in democracy protecting the rights of the people. The issue to be considered now is whether the HFEA have acted outside their legal remit in making their decision, and what action can be taken to ensure the democratic process is not abused in this way’.