Australia Catholic Bishops Speak Up Against Bill to Allow Human Cloning

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 10, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Australia Catholic Bishops Speak Up Against Bill to Allow Human Cloning

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 10
, 2006

Canberra, Australia ( — Catholic Church leaders in Australia have spoken up against legislation in the nation’s parliament that would legalize human cloning for research purposes. The church leaders said such a measure would cheapen respect for human life and would promote "dangerous and perverse" experiments.

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference said human cloning would foster views of human life as expendable both in research applications and other situations.

In a statement they indicated they would pray that MPs reject a bill to legalize human cloning, which the Australia Senate is expected to vote on next month.

"To create a human embryo with the express purpose of destroying it for research is to enter in a dangerous and perverse form of human experimentation," the bishops said, according to a report in The Australian newspaper.

"The human embryo cannot continue to develop as anything other than a human being," they added.

"These new bills, however, create a new contempt for life by creating embryos purely for the purpose of destruction, further dehumanising the human embryo (and) introducing new categories of human embryos, including clones and embryos with mixed DNA," they said.

"Introducing cloning and the mixing of human and animal genetic material into this field of research only compounds the promotion of curiosity over ethics."

The bishops said they had no problems with research using adult stem cells, that do not require the destruction of human life to obtain and have already produced dozens of treatments for various diseases and conditions.

Their comments come after MIT professor James Sherley told the Australian media that cloning advocates there were misleading the public and that adult stem cell research holds better hope for patients.

Members of parliament have been lobbied heavily by both sides of the debate with doctors, scientists, pro-life advocates and church leaders all chiming in with letters, petitions and special hearings and debates.

Scientists say they want human cloning legalized for research purposes so they can clone human embryos and destroy them for their stem cells for research.