Christian lawyers come out in support of cord blood Bill

Published 08 January 2008  |  
The Lawyers' Christian Fellowship (LCF) has thrown its support behind a Bill being presented to Parliament next Tuesday that will encourage the donation of umbilical cord blood at birth and its storage for public use.

The Bill is being presented by David Burrowes MP and if successful, will require doctors to inform all parents of the benefits of collection and storage of cord blood.

There are already three NHS hospitals collecting umbilical cord blood, which can be used for the treatment of diseases and research into new treatments using cord blood stem cells. Cord blood collection and storage is winning approval from those who see it as an ethical alternative to controversial embryonic stem cell research, including the LCF.

The LCF's Public Policy Director, Andrea Minichiello Williams, said that the public was still "largely unaware" of the benefits of cord blood.

"This Bill will raise awareness of the benefits, but additionally it will take a step towards protecting embryos from being used in research by highlighting the benefits of using umbilical cord blood stem cells instead," she said.

Ms Williams added that the Bill would deter the creation of animal-human hybrid embryos for embryonic research as proposed under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill currently being reviewed in the House of Lords.

"This is clearly unethical and strikes at the very heart of what it means to be human, removing the special status and dignity of the human embryo," warned Ms Williams.

Years of research into human embryonic stem cells have yet to produce any significant treatments or cures.

"It is likely that hybrid embryos will be equally as unsuccessful," said Ms Williams. "In comparison, cord blood stem cells have been successfully used in treatment of diseases, including helping to obtain bone marrow matches for children suffering from leukaemia.

"In total 85 diseases have been successfully treated using cord blood stem cells and there is the potential to treat more.

"We hope Parliament will embrace this Bill, that the Government will invest in developing cord stem cell banks across NHS hospitals, and that the use of cord blood stem cells over embryonic stem cells will be realised."

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