British Members of Parliament have voted in favour of amending the 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act to allow human embryos to be cloned for stem cell research. After an impassioned debate in the House of Commons on Tuesday 19 December, 366 ministers voted for the amendment while 174 voted against, giving the supporters a majority of 192.
The move has been condemned by pro-life campaigners, including John Smeaton of the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child, who described the decision as 'deeply disturbing' and suggested that the 'profound issues involved' had not been given due consideration.
Michael Wilks, Chairman of the British Medical Association's Medical Ethics Committee, however, welcomed the result: "Using embryonic stem cells and the patients' own genetic material, we may be able to develop compatible tissue to repair hearts, to replace bone marrow and to treat people with major burns. It could offer sufferers from degenerative diseases like Parkinson's new hope of a healthy life."