Supreme Court decision in R -v- R regrettable but creates an opportunity to unite ethics and science in favour of a win-win solution

R -v- R Supreme Court decision regrettable but creates an opportunity to unite ethics and science in favour of a win-win solution

15th December 2009
The Pro-Life Campaign has expressed disappointment with today's Supreme Court decision in the R v. R frozen embryos case and called on the Government to introduce legislation to protect the human embryo. The Supreme Court ruled that Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution does not afford protection to the human embryo prior to implantation.
Commenting on the decision, Dr Berry Kiely of the Pro-Life Campaign said:
The Government must introduce legislation to protect human life at its earliest stages of development. The human embryo is not potential life – it is human life with potential. Each one of us passed through this early stage of life on our way to birth.The very basis of democracy is respect for the equal dignity and worth of every human being under the law. Our first and most important human right is the right to life.
The fact that the Supreme Court ruled that the human embryo does not enjoy protection under Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution in no way impedes the Government from introducing legislation to protect early human life. There is precedent for such legislation in countries like Italy and Germany where protections for the human embryo were introduced despite there being no explicit Constitutional protection in those countries for human life at its fragile beginnings.
Today's Supreme Court decision marks the beginning not the end of the debate on how best to proceed. The totally unrepresentative composition of the Commission on Assisted Human Reproduction (CAHR), which voted 24 to 1 in favour of destructive embryo research, is certainly not the basis for any legislation. Before legislation is proposed, the Government must address the glaring imbalance to date in the consultative process. We need legislation to protect the human embryo not the continued outsourcing of decision making to unaccountable quangos or to some 'regulatory body'.
We must not, as a society, pass over this opportunity to unite ethics and science in a win-win solution that could make Ireland a centre of excellence for adult stem cell research, which is ethically sound and scientifically very promising.The unfolding debate is not about those in favour of research pitched in ideological battle against those opposed to scientific advances. Pro-life supporters are just as enthusiastic about the promise of finding treatments for infertility and cures for diseases, but strongly believe this can be achieved without recourse to the taking of human life.

Additional Information: Public Opinion Research on
Protection of Human Embryo

The latest polling research on the issue shows a substantial majority of the public support enshrining protections for the human embryo in law.
In January 2009, Millward Brown IMS carried out research on a quota controlled sample of 943 people aged over 18.
The question reads: "Currently experimentation involving the destruction of human embryos does not take place in Ireland. Do you think the Dáil should enshrine the protection of the human embryo in law or not?"
71% of those who expressed an opinion support a law protecting the human embryo and 29% are opposed to it.
The results are consistent with similar research conducted by Millward Brown IMS in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008.
Click here for some background information on R -v- R case

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