Catholic Archbishop attacks hospital's "arrogant and unacceptable"
Following authorisation by the HFEA (Human Fertilisation and Embryology
Authority), Glasgow Royal Infirmary became the first hospital in Scotland
able to carry out PGD (Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis) or genetic embryo
screening, earlier this year.
At the time the hospital spoke of establishing an "Ethics Committee" to
advise on this work. Investigations by the Catholic Church revealed the
committee was not in place but being assembled. After more than four months
of procrastination and delay, the hospital trust released the following
statement on 11 July:
The Trust can call on a number of people should the need arise to convene a
committee to consider any ethical issues relating to assisted conception.
These people come from a range of backgrounds and include both professional
and lay members. The Trust has no intention of disclosing the identity of
these individuals, given the sensitivities around this matter and the real
sense of threat that individuals in the field have, due to recent local and
North Glasgow University Hospitals NHS Trust
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The following statement has been released by Archbishop Mario Conti,
Archbishop of Glasgow and member of the Catholic Bishops joint bioethics
"This response by the The North Glasgow NHS Trust is both unacceptable and
Genetic screening is an area of enormous concern to the the public, with
serious moral and ethical implications. The North Glasgow NHS Trust is a
publicly funded and supported organisation that exists to serve the people
of Glasgow and beyond.
It is completely unacceptable for Glasgow Royal Infirmary to refuse to
disclose the names of those who may advise their medical staff in this
publicly funded work. At the same time, it is disingenuous in the extreme to
suggest that any threat or hint of threat exists in relation to those who
simply give advice on ethics.
The response by the Trust begs a number of important questions, namely;
1. Several months after a licence was granted for PIGD work, why does
Glasgow Royal Infirmary not have a properly constituted, permanent ethics
committee to advise on and oversee this work?
2. Why is the Trust apparently unprepared to assure the public on a matter
of widespread concern that it will publicly nominate persons of competence
in the moral and ethical fields concerned?
3. Is the Trust ready to accept nominations from churches or church bodies
which have the traditional competence to deal with or offer advice on these
Note: Archbishop Conti gave this statement from Lourdes in France where he
has just arrived with a diocesan pilgrimage, comprising a number of sick and
ill people from Glasgow and the west of Scotland, who were being cared for
by others who had given up their time to do so. He said this "stressed the
importance given to such work by the church and reinforces our belief that
the dignity of the individual does not depend upon their physical perfection
but on the range of relationships they are capable of having with other
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