Senior British Cabinet ministers who were initially told they must support an immoral bill regulating in-vitro fertilization (IVF) or leave the government, will now be permitted to vote against the bill.
Among the items that ministers object to in the “Human Fertilization and Embryology Bill,” are the removal of the requirement that fertility clinics consider the need for a father before providing IVF treatment and the recognition of same-sex couples as legal parents.
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, archbishop of Westminster, called the act “profoundly wrong,” and the Anglican archbishop of York, Most Rev. John Sentamu has also attacked the bill.
Ruth Kelly, the Transport Secretary and member of Opus Dei, and Des Browne, the Defense Secretary, were uneasy about the bill, according to The Telegraph.
Ministers of parliament are usually given a “free vote” on issues of conscience, but leaders initially ruled that out because the vote concerns a government bill and a defeat would reflect poorly on the leadership of the governing Labor Party.
Though allowed a free vote, cabinet members opposing the bill are more likely to abstain rather than vote against it. The free vote does allow amendments to be proposed, including ones that could scuttle the bill. One expected amendment would reduce the time limit on legal abortion from 24 to 20 weeks.
64 ministers of parliament who can vote on the bill are Catholic.