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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Embryo Cull Begins

LONDON () -- British fertility clinics began destroying thousands of "orphan" embryos Thursday after a government deadline passed at midnight.

Pro-life groups held overnight candle-lit vigils, singing hymns and saying prayers outside clinics across Britain before what they called "the mass destruction of human life" began.

The embryos were created in laboratories by fertmlizing`human eggs with sperm outside the womb for implantation into women unable to have children by natural means.

The government says the embryos, which are stored in deep freezes, must be disposed of after five years unless their parents request that they be kept longer or donated for "pre-natal" adoption or research.