Dame Warnock, chair of the 1984 Warnock Committee of Enquiry into Human Fertilisation and Embryology which spearheaded the 1990 HFEA - perhaps fearing the injection of old arguments into the debate on the 2007 amendments - wrote a powerful essay for the November 29 issue of Nature reminding us that "there was little possibility of moral consensus" about research using live embryos when her committee recommended the 14 day rule to criminalize keeping an embryo alive in the laboratory more than 14 days after fertilization. [During her Committee's deliberations, she noted that] "the Church claimed a right to regulate science in this area, because of its superior knowledge of morality. In sharp contrast, the committee's entitlement to issue moral advice to ministers derived from its having been set up to do so and from its having a wide and non-partisan membership."
"The moral decisions that such committees have to make are essentially matters of public not private morality. We had to consider our own moral or religious scruples alongside what the consequences might be of the decisions for society as a whole. This was the reason we could not allow ourselves to be swayed by arguments derived from a particular religious dogma." "The legislation [we crafted] would govern everyone - believers and atheists - and had to take into account wider considerations such as the relief of suffering ... [Remember] that it is permissive. No one would be compelled to seek a form of infertility treatment or engage in a form of research..."
"It is essential that ignorance and prejudice should not be allowed to dictate the outcome. Everyone should be educated so as to have a broad understanding of science, and an appreciation of its potential for good. Without this, we cannot responsibly erect barriers to scientific advance." "This must be done by weighing up possible goods against possible harms. These harms do not include only the offending of religious sensibilities of a particular group."