Christian Campaigners Lose Hybrid Embryo Challenge

( [email protected] ) Dec 10, 2008 11:03 AM EST

Christian campaigners have lost their High Court bid to overturn licenses allowing two universities to create animal-human embryos for research purposes.

The Christian Legal Center and Comment on Reproductive Ethics (Core) were seeking a judicial review into whether the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority had acted illegally in granting licenses to scientists at King’s College London and Newcastle University in January, before Parliament had voted on whether research using animal-human hybrid embryos should be allowed.

Supporters of the research argue that it could help scientists find cures for serious diseases like Parkinson’s or HIV/AIDS, while opponents say it is unnecessary because of the progress being made with ethical alternatives such as adult stem cell research.

Judge Justice Dobb ruled on Tuesday that the campaigners’ challenge was unarguable because the HFEA had acted within its authority and proper consideration had been given to the issues surrounding the granting of the licenses.

The campaigners expressed their disappointment at the ruling and anger at the judge for ordering them to pay large legal costs.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, barrister and founder of CLC said: “Today we have been penalized for our attempt to seek access to justice on behalf of the embryo and have been hit by substantial costs.

“It is a travesty of justice that public interest bodies cannot bring these cases without running up enormous costs.”

She warned that the boundaries of science and ethics would be pushed even further.

“Following this ruling the danger is now that we will see further attempts by the HFEA and scientists to push the boundaries beyond even the creation of animal human hybrid embryos without fearing legal challenge,” she said.

“We are indeed living in a brave and dangerous new world which appears to know no ethical boundaries.”