Australia Lawmakers, Pro-Life Groups Upset at Human Cloning Vote

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 7, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Australia Lawmakers, Pro-Life Groups Upset at Human Cloning Vote Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 7
, 2006

Canberra, Australia ( — Lawmakers and pro-life groups are upset that the Australia parliament gave the final approval to a measure overturning the nation’s ban on all forms of human cloning. The proposal allowed human cloning for research purposes even though the creation and destruction of human life for their stem cells hasn’t helped patients.

After the vote, Nationals Senate Leader Ron Boswell said most Australians would be horrified to learn the details of what parliament approved.

"It certainly doesn’t reflect the community that I live in," Senator Boswell told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper. "I would think if people knew the details of it they would be absolutely horrified."

NSW Liberal senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells agreed and said it was a sad day for Australia that the country will now allow the cloning and killing of human beings for research.

"I think this debate has been led in a very misleading and deceptive manner," she told the newspaper. "I think the Australian public have not really been told what precisely is in this bill."

Fierravanti-Wells said the bill also allows scientists to use cells from babies who are victims of abortion and to take human eggs for research from dead women.

Dr. David van Gend, National Director of Australians for Ethical Stem Cell Research, told he’s also concerned about the outcome of the vote.

"This tragic and shameful vote has been a victory for ‘con science’ over conscience," he said.

"The moral damage to society has now been done by approving a laboratory subclass of human young, created only for exploitation," van Gend said.

"But now that we have cut ourselves loose from the essential ethical principle – that no human life can be exploited for the benefit of other human lives – there is no way to get a grip on the slippery slope to further desecrations," he explained.

House members knew the outcome would be in favor of the bill and decided to call of a request for the actual vote tally of each member. The last vote taken on the bill prior to its final passage was 82 to 62 in favor of it.

An August survey found a majority of Australians oppose human cloning.

That survey of 1,200 people, conducted by Sexton Marketing, found 51 percent of Australians opposed human cloning, 30 percent supported it and 12 percent had no opinion on the issue.

The August poll found ten times more Australians prefer adult stem cell research to studies involving embryonic stem cells.

Assuming each type of research brought equal benefits to patients, 40 percent preferred using adult stem cells and just 4 percent preferred using embryonic stem cell research, according to the August poll. Some 51 percent had no preference.

The Sexton poll also found that 48 percent of those surveyed would change the way they vote in the next election depending on how their local MPs stood on the issue of human cloning.

Australia was criticized in November 2004 for changing its position to support a U.S.-backed proposal at the United Nations calling for a ban on all forms of human cloning. Prime Minister John Howard’s government quietly changed its position to support a coalition of 60 nations, led by the United States and Costa Rica.

In 2003, Australia opposed the treaty and supported a competing proposal pushed by a Belgium and a smaller group of nations to allow human cloning for research.