Williams concerned about alcohol abuse and 'instrumental' bioethics

By staff writers
1 Feb 2008

Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, in an interview marking the 5th anniversary of his enthronement, has expressed concern about 24-hour drinking as the "tip of the iceberg" in a culture of alcohol abuse in Britain.

Dr Williams said he was "very concerned" by reports that a review ordered into 24-hour drinking by Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2007 would conclude that the legislation has been largely a success.

"I would be interested to see why anyone should think of it as a success. I think it has had an effect of making less safe and less civil our public space in many, many contexts, including Canterbury," he said.

He added: "There is a whole culture of alcohol abuse which this country has failed to tackle and the 24-hour thing is just the tip of the iceberg. It is not that I am singling it out as the worst bit of the field, it is just that it is one of the more obviously presenting factors."

Dr Williams also questioned proposals in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill which could open the door to research into hybrid embryos and which would remove the reference to the need for a father when under going fertility treatment.

He said: "The hybrid question - there has been a lot of rather extreme and alarmist talk about this and I fully accept that it is not about the breeding of monsters, but at the same time, I think there remains this very instrumentalist view of the human embryo: we use it for something and then destroy it, and I find that ethically very hard to accept.

"The hybrid embryos is just an aspect of overall attitudes to embryo research.

"In this country, more than in many others we seem to be taking for granted that it is all right to regard the human embryo as something to be used instrumentally - that is my big moral concern."

He said he "regretted" the proposals on removing the need for a father, saying it was a "downgrading of the ordinary processes of reproduction and upbringing" in favour of a "highly technological view" of what human reproduction was about.

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