Thousands of human embryos destroyed in Britain
August 1, 1996
Web posted at: 3:45 p.m. EDT (1945 GMT)
From Reporter Don Kladstrup
LONDON (CNN) -- It did not look like a massacre, but that's
what anti-abortion groups called Thursday's
destruction of 3,000 human embryos.
The embryos, essentially abandoned by their parents, were
removed from liquid nitrogen freezers and immersed in a warm
solution where they were allowed to disintegrate.
Clinics said they had no choice. British law requires
parental consent for preservation of a frozen embryo longer
than 5 years.
"It just saddens me that it's the law of the land and that
we're actually being forced to make a decision about things
earlier than we really need to," said Professor Ian Craft,
Director of the London Gynecology and Fertility Center.
Instead of destroying the embryos, anti-abortion groups had
demanded that clinics put them up for adoption,
or at least give them a dignified burial.
"I am horrified because these are real living human beings
and a civilized society doesn't destroy human lives like that
so casually, said Jack Scarisbrick, Chairman of an organization called Life.
Scientists called such criticism "biological nonsense."
Dr. Robert Forman of the London Gynecology and Fertility
Center said they were not killing life. "It's obviously
plain nonsense the idea of wanting to bury these embryos any
more than it is, what we've said previously, for a woman to
want to bury her menstrual blood each month," he said.
"Embryos do not have sensation, they don't have feeling, they
don't have thinking or anything like that," said Dr. Peter
Brinsden, director of the Bourne Hall Clinic.
Thursday's destruction has stirred reaction outside Britain
as well. In Italy, 100 women including two elderly nuns,
have said they are willing to give birth to the embryos
and adopt them.
There are still thousands of embryos in storage, embryos that
will eventually also be destroyed unless the law is changed
or parents, who have not been located, dictate otherwise.
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