Australia Government MP Will File Legislation Legalizing Human Cloning

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 16, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 16, 2006

Canberra, Australia ( — Following Prime Minister John Howard’s decision to flip-flop on the issue of human cloning and allow a conscience vote on whether to reverse Australia’s ban on the practice, members of parliament who make up the ruling coalition government have decided to offer their own legislation to back cloning for research.

Previously, opposition Democrat senator Natasha Stott Despoja had led the fight to legalizing cloning and been the only one proposing legislation.

But Victorian Liberal Senator Kay Patterson says she will also draft a private members bill backing human cloning for research purposes. She says her bill will likely win more support because it comes from a member of the majority in parliament.

Despoja agreed and said "it is great to have another prominent voice on the issue" which would require a "collaborative effort" to enact.

Patterson also told The Age newspaper that two other Liberal senators, Mal Washer and Michael Johnson, have discussed drafting their own human cloning proposal.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Kim Beazley says he will vote for human cloning and that Liberal MPs will have a conscience vote as well on the bills.

But Beazley’s parliamentary secretary, John Murphy, said he would vigorously oppose the bills.

He called human cloning for research purposes "morally reprehensible."

"If we allow the scientists to do whatever they want to do to — create embryos — my concern is that some crackpot scientist might clone a human being. Once that is done, the game is over," Murphy told The Age.

Two members of parliament, Victorian Liberal Tony Smith and Queensland Nationals senator Ron Boswell, will also help lead the fight against the bills.

Despoja has said she would invite scientists and disability rights advocates who back human cloning to lobby members of parliament, but MPs opposed to human cloning plan to do the same thing.