Political horse-trading over embryo selection

6 June 2008

Political horse-trading over embryo selection

“Political rows, turf wars and even horse-trading is hardly suitable when the subject is medical ethics. The interests of the different parties in the governing coalition, and their relations with each other, should not determine an issue of medical ethics." So said SP Member of Parliament and spokeswoman on health Agnes Kant during Thursday's debate on embryo selection.

Agnes KantSecretary of State for Health Jet Bussemaker wanted to see pre-implantation genetic diagnostics and embryo-selection made legal in relation to the identification of serious hereditary cancers carrying a high mortality risk. Bussemaker was forced, however, to withdraw her letter outlining this proposal by colleagues from the Christian Union, the small make-weight of a three-party governing coalition which includes her own Labour Party (PvdA) and the Christian Democrats (CDA). Since then a compromise has been in the process of being hammered out between the three parties which would enable them to find a way out of the impasse. Consequently, during the debate on Thursday, Labour and the two Christian parties had little to say.

For the SP, Agnes Kant emphasised during the debate that embryo selection must only be allowed in exceptional situations, such as hereditary breast cancer. "It is unacceptable that a small minority in Parliament – namely the Christian Union – should be forcing its moral persuasions on to the whole House and thereby the whole country. The SP wants to see this matter decided by Parliament in complete freedom and after having had the chance to weigh the matter carefully. Coalition and party considerations should play no role in this.”

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