Canadian Parliament Will Take Up Human Cloning Bill Again

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 9, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Canadian Parliament Will Take Up Human Cloning Bill Again

by Paul Nowak Staff Writer
January 9, 2004

Ottawa, Canada ( — The Canadian legislature will reconsider legislation regarding reproductive technologies, including human cloning, that passed in the House of Commons last session despite opposition from pro-life legislators. Timing will be an important issue, as even after 10 years there is still debate, and a change in leadership is expected in the spring.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Paul Martin confirmed Thursday that the Assisted Human Reproduction Act will be reconsidered. It will not have to pass the House of Commons again, although the Senate is expected to hold hearings, since the legislation focuses on complex and controversial subjects.

In addition, Martin has identified three other pieces of legislation to have priority over the Assisted Human Reproduction Act. If the law is not passed before the next election expected in the spring, it may not pass due to opposition.

A few of the provisions in the bill include a ban on reproductive human cloning, commercial surrogate mother contracts, and establish limits on embryonic stem cell research.

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," said Paul Szabo, a pro-life member of the House of Commons who led the opposition to the legislation and is an 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."

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 prohibited federal funding of any new embryonic stem cell research.