British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has issued a last minute plea for MPs to back a controversial bill that goes before parliament today. In a Sunday newspaper, he defended plans to allow so-called hybrid cells – part human part animal – to be used for medical research.
The Prime Minister described the proposals as a “moral endeavour” that could save “millions of lives”.
He argued the hybrid cells were needed because of the shortage of embryonic stem cells used to research diseases such as Parkinsons and Cystic Fibrosis. The bill also includes a reduction in the upper time limit for abortions by two or four weeks, and equal access to IVF treatment for lesbian couples.
But Brown has had to allow MPs a free vote on those three items as many in his Labour Party, including some cabinet ministers, severely oppose them on religious grounds.
They had made it clear conscience would take precedence over party loyalty – meaning unless there was a free vote they would have had to quit the government.