The announcement that the Canadian Institutes for Health Research will fund embryonic stem cell research is bad enough, because such experimentation depends upon the destruction of tiny human beings at their earliest stage of development. There can be no forgetting this abomination.
But the problem is made worse when an agency of the federal government, run by unelected bureaucrats, makes laws on vital life issues because of a public policy vacuum the federal government allows to develop.
For years, the federal government has dragged its feet in this area. Legislation on reproductive and experimental technologies that was being prepared in 1997, died when the prime minister called an early election. The legislation would have reflected the work of a royal commission set up earlier in the decade. It took another four years for the government to introduce draft legislation that the standing health committee of the House of Commons studied until December 2001.
Both Health Minister Anne McLellan and her predecessor, Allan Rock, promised legislation sometime in 2002. And while the government waited (and waited and waited), science went on in a policy vacuum. The CIHR, pressured by scientists, acted.
Now is the time for Parliament to act.
Parliamentarians must reassert their authority to enact law, and not allow their powers to be usurped by funding agencies and other unelected bodies such as the CIHR. They must take a stand and urge the government to rein in the CIHR by making it clear that it must not set guidelines for such research unilaterally. MPs must also call for protection of all human beings from the moment of fertilization/conception, and demand that human embryos have the right not to become fodder for the experiments of mad scientists.
Better yet, the health minister should show decisive leadership and introduce legislation immiediately that will protect human embryos from destructive experimentation.
We urge MPs and the government to do what’s right. And your help is needed. Contact your MP and Health Minister Anne McLellan with your concerns and urge them to ban embryonic stem cell research.You can write to your MP and Anne McLellan postage free at: House of Commons, Ottawa, K1A 0A3. If you can, request a personal visit with you MP.