Paris, Monday 8 July 2013
On Thursday 11 July, MPs will be examining the draft legislation aiming to lift the ban on human embryo research. This attitude goes against a major ethical principle which provides symbolic protection over the human embryo. This examination will occur without any public debate, even though the law on bioethics (passed in 2011) stipulates that French people must be consulted in the event of any proposal for reform on ethical problems (art. 46). Initially presented as part of the RDSE group's initiative and outvoted at the National Assembly last March, the draft legislation was seconded by the government: it will be studied at a special meeting, on a Thursday in July, with the perspective of only a few MPs concerned as a consequence.
This forced attempt to pass a law has occurred even though, since November 2012, a citizen mobilisation has escalated in France and Europe with the European Citizens' Initiative , requesting the European Commission to stop funding programmes which destroy human embryos, and to protect them instead. Over 710,000 signatures from European citizens have already been collected, and France has just reached the minimum amount of signatures required with 64,000 signatures.
Alliance VITA, The Jérôme Lejeune Foundation, The Catholic Families' Associations and the Evangelical Protestant Committee for Human Dignity calls on each and every citizen to reinforce this mobilisation further by signing as a matter of urgency, before the proposal is passed in Parliament on Thursday. The number of French and European signatures for the One of Us Initiative will be presented to French MPs before the examination begins.
This unusual mobilisation on this subject is correlated with major scientific advances which confirm the worthlessness of embryo research. Beyond adult stem cells and cord blood which are already used for treatment, reprogrammed cells known as iPS cells* are extremely promising. After the Japanese government's announcement last Spring about an ambitious investment in reprogrammed cells, clinical trials will be authorised in mid-July. Furthermore, last week, one of Professor Takanori Takebe's teams announced the encouraging results in terms of creating human in vitro livers from iPS cells.
Whilst the international scientific community now concentrates their human and financial efforts on these new ethical and efficient techniques, how should we try to understand that France is continuing down a road which does not only go against ethics, but also against scientific evolution?
To sign the European Citizens' Initiative: www.oneofus.eu/
* discovered by Professor Yamanaka (Nobel Prize for Medicine), iPS cells are rejuvenated adult cells which regain their ability to differentiate themselves. This technique does not use human embryos.
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