Western Australia Legislative Council Defeats Bill to Allow Human Cloning

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 7, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Western Australia Legislative Council Defeats Bill to Allow Human Cloning

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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
May 7
, 2008

Perth, Australia (LifeNews.com) — Western Australia’s Legislative Council defeated a bill that would allow scientists to clone human beings and destroy them days later to use their stem cells in unproven research. The measure follows a December 2006 vote in the Australian Parliament to overturn the nation’s human cloning ban.

The council defeated the Human Reproductive Technology Amendment Bill on an 18-15 second reading vote Tuesday night.

The measure would have brought the Australian state in line with the federal legislation that permits the creation and destruction of human embryo clones for research.

Four other states, including Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, and the Australian Capital Territory have already passed laws permitting cloning. Pro-cloning legislation is currently before the Parliament of South Australia.

Richard Egan, spokesman for the pro-life group Festival of Light Australia hailed the defeat of the measure, in a statement to LifeNews.com.

"This vote on cloning has come after the dramatic scientific breakthroughs beginning in November 2007 when Japanese scientist Shinya Yamanaka turned ordinary human skin cells into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells)," he said.

"This new science has developed so rapidly that it has now made cloning scientifically redundant because iPS cells are biologically indistinguishable from embryonic stem cells," he added.

"The new iPS cells can be made without the need for human eggs, which can only be obtained by subjecting women to grave health risks, and without creating or destroying a single human embryo," Mr Egan said.

Egan told LifeNews.com he hopes the Commonwealth will take another look at its cloning laws, and follow the lead of the Western Australia Parliament in acknowledging that cloning is a "dead science" and there is now no justification for any law permitting human cloning.

In the December 2006 vote in the Australia Parliament, the Australia House approved the pro-cloning bill Liberal Senator Kay Patterson sponsored despite last-minute lobbying from then-Prime Minister John Howard and current Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

"I don’t think the science has shifted enough to warrant the Parliament changing its view (since the 2002 vote to ban therapeutic cloning)," Howard said during the debate.

House members knew the outcome would be in favor of the bill and decided not to call for 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.

The House also defeated an amendment that would have prohibited extracting stem cells from the eggs of aborted late-term female babies. Liberal MP Michael Ferguson’s amendment would have sent the bill back to the Senate, which approved the measure by just two votes.