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Churches want PM to protect surplus embryos

Church leaders urged a rethink on creating surplus human embryos, ahead of a decision by Prime Minister John Howard on whether they should be used for stem cell research.

Fr Anthony Fisher OP, bioethics spokesman from the Melbourne Archdiocese, said spare IVF embryos would not even be an issue if the existing embryos were used.

"With that kind of policy in place, we wouldn't even be facing the whole dilemma of what to do with spare embryos," he said. "Even before you have to start thinking of adoption or experimentation or disposal, (we should be) looking at how many we are making in the first place."

Sydney's Anglican Archbishop Peter Jensen flagged the idea of allowing infertile couples to adopt surplus embryos during a meeting with Mr Howard.

Stem cell research will be a key issue at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting on Friday, with Mr Howard saying he will make his position known soon. He said it was important the government took time to make the right decision because it involved important medical research issues and very important ethical issues.

The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Dr George Pell, had a private meeting with Mr Howard last week but has not made public his views.


4 Apr 2002