The European Parliament has banned medical research that uses stem cells from human embryos. The ruling is at odds with the law in many European countries and promises to provoke a Europewide political debate. Italy, for example, citing the belief that human life begins at conception, has banned all experimentation with human embryos. But Britain, a leader in research into lifesaving therapies for Parkinson’s and other diseases, allows stem cell research. Lord Robert May, head of the Royal Society, a British science academy, condemned the ban as the work of “a small group of zealots.” E.U. member states must each approve any European Parliament ruling through votes in their own parliaments before it can become law, so the ban will not immediately affect research.
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