England’s Catholic Bishops say “Chimeras” have a right to life.

While the Bush Administration continues to restrict stem cell research here in the U.S., over in the U.K. they’re drafting up laws to regulate research using Chimeras — animal embryos with human cells in them and vice versa — so that researchers know what they are and aren’t allowed to do with these hybrid organisms. Scientists will have permission to create these organisms so long as they destroy them two weeks later.

It’s the sort of thing you’d expect the Catholic Bishops to be opposed to and in fact they are just that, but they’ve also taken a rather surprising stance on the issue:

The bishops, who believe that life begins at conception, said that they opposed the creation of any embryo solely for research, but they were also anxious to limit the destruction of such life once it had been brought into existence.

In their submission to the committee, they said: “At the very least, embryos with a preponderance of human genes should be assumed to be embryonic human beings, and should be treated accordingly.

“In particular, it should not be a crime to transfer them, or other human embryos, to the body of the woman providing the ovum, in cases where a human ovum has been used to create them.

“Such a woman is the genetic mother, or partial mother, of the embryo; should she have a change of heart and wish to carry her child to term, she should not be prevented from doing so.”

Yes, the Catholic Bishops over there are actually arguing that human embryos with animal cells/DNA in them should be allowed to continue to term if the mother so desires. I totally wouldn’t have expected that sort of argument from them as it raises all sorts of ethical issues not to mention it’s not even clear these hybrids would be viable. It certainly adds a new dimension to the nickname “Johnny the Dog Faced Boy.”