Embryonic Stem Cell Research Advancing in Australia, Pro-Lifers Concerned

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 6, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Embryonic Stem Cell Research Advancing in Australia, Pro-Lifers Concerned

by Maria Gallagher
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
July 6, 2004

Queensland, Australia (LifeNews.com) — Threats to human life in Australia are likely to escalate, as embryonic stem cell research gets underway, according to a public official who is monitoring the situation.

An Independent Western Australian MP says he worries that both scientists and politicians will try to challenge the boundaries of newly-enacted laws aimed at governing human reproductive technology.

In a matter of weeks, embryonic testing and fetal stem cell research will be permitted in Western Australia, the result of new laws agreed to by State Parliament.

According to published reports, the laws bring the State into line with governments throughout Australia.

Phillip Pendal, an MP for South Perth, was among a bipartisan group of lawmakers who opposed the liberalization of research laws and supported a ban on human cloning.

Pendal notes that, only 12 years ago, the government pledged never to allow the testing and destruction of live human embryos from in-vitro fertilization.

"There will be people wanting to push the boundaries and introduce cloning within five or 10 years," Pendal told the Australian press.

A number of bioethics experts in Australia have noted that embryonic stem cell research is not only unethical — it’s proven unsuccessful as well.

In a special piece for Queensland Right to Life, Anthony Fisher, a professor of bioethics at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family, wrote, "The truth is that embryonic stem cells have not helped a single human patient. And stem cells taken from surplus IVF embryos will never have medical application. Why? Because tissues from embryonic stem cells are terribly unpredictable, may well develop into tumors, and will in any case be rejected as foreign tissue by any body they were transferred to."

"If embryonic stem cells are to be used, we will have to manufacture new ‘designer embryos’ – perhaps several – for each and every patient we treat, embryos who are the patient’s own identical twins, and then ‘cannibalize’ those embryos for the parts we want," Fisher added.

In June, Australia’s National Stem Cell Centre announced it would make new human embryonic stem cell lines "freely available" for scientific research. The stem cell lines are being derived from a Melbourne in-vitro fertilization clinic.

"We are very supportive of the decision to make these stem cell lines available to researchers around the globe without commercial or intellectual property encumbrances," Victorian Premier Steve Bracks said at the time.

Related web sites:
Queensland Right to Life – https://www.qrtl.org.au