Free Vote?

When members of Parliament are given a free vote, they are allowed to vote their conscience on a particular bill. Free votes are not particularly common, especially on significant legislation.

For Americans, the severe whipping MPs sometimes get may seem strange. In Congress and state legislatures, there are party whips who use various methods to persuade members to vote a certain way. They may be able to dangle carrots of certain preferential treatment or future committee assignments. Party discipline here is a different. Because the executive and legislative functions are so intertwined, an indisciplined party can bring down a Government.

That is why a Government that chooses to introduce very morally questionable legislation has to force members of its party to choose between the Prime Minister and their conscience. If a Government allows a free vote, they are saying that it would be nice if the bill were inacted, but not key to their policies and agenda for the country.

Backbench member of the party of Government are held in line with a lot of carrot and stick. Fronbenchers – members of the Prime Minister’s ministerial team – are held in line with their jobs. If a minister cannot vote with the Government, they are expected to resign and return to the back benches. This means a loss of between one-third and more that half of their salary, depending on their ministerial rank. Except for particularly high-flyers, it also means their hope for advancement in their political career is effectively over.

It is easier to return to the frontbenches after a scandal of immorality than it is over disloyality to the party whip. In other word, it is better to lie, cheat, steal, improperly use ministerial influence for personal gain, or cheat on your spouse using public money to finance it and cover it up, than it is to vote your conscience.

If you are still with me, I said all that to say this. Gordon Brown has determined that Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill now has parts that can be allowed a free vote and parts that can’t. Human/animal hybrids are now optional, as are saviour sibilings. However, embyro screening and lesbian parents are not. And once all the amendments have been voted on, regardless of the outcome, all ministers must vote for the Bill or resign.

Prior to the PM’s partial back-down, there were a dozen members of the Government who were willing to rebel, including three Cabinet ministers. Reports are that two of the three Catholics, Paul Murphy and Des Browne, are satified. Ruth Kelly, a member of Opus Dei, was reported back in 2004 to be “straight down the line” on abortion and other life issues.

The embryo screen provisions of the Bill are plainly contrary to Catholic teaching. This would specifically authorise the killing of embryos that do not meet certain genetic criteria. I’m also not sure how the idea that lesbian parents would both be able to register as parents on a birth certificate is in line with Catholic teaching either. Under this provision, children of lesbian parents will be forbidden to from contacting their fathers (since due the nature of the species, every has a male parent, whether or not that fits into the lesbian lifestyle) until they are eighteen years old.

When the dust has cleared, it will be interesting to see who has voted their conscience, or even for which Catholics the teaching of the Church is their conscience.

Moral Backbone and Bankruptcy

I haven’t written anything here about the upcoming vote on the Human Embryology Bill, though I have been commenting at length elsewhere.

Once again there is no lack of vitriol aimed at the Church, especially the Roman Church. So many people don’t want the Church pronouncing upon public policy, as if there was some sort of separation between the two. Since public policy is about choosing right and wrong paths of action and the Church is about instructing concerning which paths of human action are right and wrong, it would appear to the naked eye that this Church is doing exactly what it is supposed to be doing. Secularists seem to be of the clouded view that ethics can somehow be divorced from morality and exist in a vacuum.

When attack the Church, these secularists seems to have no regard for facts. I was looking at a BBC World Service blog which poses the question “Where do you draw the line in scientific research?” and marvelled at usual at some of the comments: “Not wanting the Church to repeat a Galileo who died for saying that the world revolve around the sun.” He was killed for it? Really? (No.) “Let’s not forget the persecution Galileo, Leonardo and other geniuses who dared to challenge the status quo.” Leonardo? When was he persecuted? And who are the other geniuses?

When they run out of facts, they resort to ad hominem. “The faithful are morally and philosophically bankrupt!
They should not have a say!”

Despite all of this, some people are listening to what the Church has to say. In a rare show of moral backbone, even some Catholic members of the Cabinet have revolted. Gordon Brown has been faced with losing a significant number of ministers or backing down and allow a free vote. But given the true moral bankruptcy of the country, he has allies on Opposition benches, possibly including Conservative leader David Cameron. If there is any ethical waffling involved, he can probably rely on the Liberal Democrats as well.

One Man and Two Women

The creation of Franken-byros continues.

Ten human embryos each containing the DNA from one man and two women have been created in a project that within three years could lead to the first genetically altered babies being born in Britain.

These embryonic humans were killed after just five days.

The point of the exercise was to replace cell mitochondria, thus removing the potential for certain diseases. This has already been done in mice, gestating them to birth and then using them to reproduce.

Scientists involved and other proponents say this is not creating designer babies, because the mitochondria don’t affect the development of appearance or personality. However, it is clearly obvious that this is the next step. Once the mitochondria can be interchanged and the baby grown to term, swapping out genes will be easy to introduce without causing to much of a fuss. It wouldn’t be a fuss, because it would already be legal.

Lord Walton of Detchant has proposed an amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill currently working irs way through Parliament. It would allow this treatment to be used with the approval of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. No further legislation would be required.

Cloning Without Consent

In all their excitement to legalise cloning, the Government seem to have overlooked one small thing. People may not want to be cloned. Never mind.

Ministers want to amend their Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill to remove the need for express consent before cloning tissue.

This will first apply to tissue that has been donated for research. It is then a small step to applying it to any tissue. Since the Government wants DNA samples of the entire population so that everyone is a suspect in every crime, there will be no reason why they can’t use it for cloning. Eventually, they will be able to search through the population and find whatever characteristics they want to recreate. Somebody could have a real doppelganger and never know it.

Embryology Agenda

Embryologists may have missed this fact: there are already plenty of sperm and egg cells in the world today. The potential is there for creating enough babies for everyone, using a method that has been available since the beginning of the human species.

There is no need to create sperm cells from female embryonic stems cells or from male bone marrow cells. There is only one reason for doing this. All of the research and attempts to change legislation are to make it possible for gay or lesbian couples to have children that are genetically related to both partners.

It is ultimate attempt to thumb the nose at God – the ultimate humanism. It is mankind saying, “We will make our own creation. We will do it by our own rules.” It is the consumate rejection of the natural order. It is the crime against nature.

At the same time that new ways are being developed to create life, 200,000 abortions are being recorded each year in the UK. That number does not include those resulting from the “morning after” pill. There would be plenty of babies available for adoption by childless couples – even gay and lesbian couples favoured under current legislation – if they weren’t all being killed.