Canadian Parliament Passes Bill Allowing Destructive Embryonic Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 29, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Canadian Parliament Passes Bill Allowing Destructive Embryonic Research

by Paul Nowak Staff Writer
October 29, 2003

Ottawa, Canada ( — After 10 years of debate, the Canadian Parliament’s lower house passed a bill banning cloning and other reproductive technologies, although the bill allows destructive research on human embryos opposed by pro-life groups.

The Assisted Human Reproduction Act, which passed the House of Commons 149-109, bans human cloning and the creation of animal-human hybrids, prohibits the sale of human sperm or ovum and the practice of financial compensation for surrogate mothers, and sets some limits on in-vitro fertilization and embryonic research.

However, pro-life legislators believe the bill should be partially re-written.

"It is my opinion that the bill is not a good bill but a fatally flawed bill," Paul Szabo, a pro-life member of the House of Commons who led the opposition to the legislation and author of a book on stem cell research. "I’m not going to be rolled over on this one, I’m going to fight it to the end."

Szabo also stated that due to the language in the bill, cloning for experimentation and research would not be banned, only reproductive cloning.

"It strikes me as utterly macabre to be talking about legislating permission to experiment on humans,” said Liberal Tom Wappel. “Ultimately, that is exactly what we are talking about.”

There is little time left in the current legislative session for the Senate to consider the Act, and it is possible it could die in the Senate social affairs committee. Even if it does expire, it could be brought back to the floor in later sessions, but the prime minister-in-waiting Paul Martin declined to comment to the Canadian press on the possibility.

Both Britain and the United States allow the creation of embryos for research and the use of surplus embryos from fertility clinics, but President Bush has banned both practices in U.S. federally funded research.