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IVF researcher apologises to Catholic for 'irrational' slur

Leading embryonic stem-cell researcher Alan Trounson has apologised to Catholics and ethicists for labelling them "irrational hypocrites", after his outburst damaged the campaign by John Howard and the premiers to introduce uniform national legislation to ban cloning and allow stem-cell research.

The Prime Minister had described the comments as unhelpful and said the Catholic Church's position on the use of embryonic stem cells for research was not illogical, as asserted by Professor Trounson.

Professor Trounson said on Friday he was "really sorry" for his comments, and that he still wanted federal MPs to back the legislation allowing experimentation on excess IVF embryos.

"I shouldn't have said it . . . how the church reacts is up to them and I apologise for any offence," he said.

On Wednesday, Professor Trounson, who heads a research institute that has been given $46 million in federal funds, said no priest had ever asked him for permission to deliver the final rites to an excess IVF embryo when it was taken out of a freezer and left to thaw on a bench before being thrown in the bin.

Mr Howard told Melbourne Radio 3AW that he would be negotiating with Tasmanian independent senator Brian Harradine on the issue.

In response, Senator Harradine wrote to Mr Howard saying Professor Trounson's comments were "unscientific, unfair, offensive and totally inappropriate for the head of a centre funded in part by $46 million extracted by your Government from taxpayers".

Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson, one of a number of non-Catholic Coalition ministers opposed to Mr Howard's support for the research, said Professor Trounson was softening the public up for an "open-slab attack on embryos".

IVF researcher calls Catholics 'irrational' (1/8/02)
Deputy PM defends Catholics after 'irrational' slur (2/8/02)

The Australian



5 Aug 2002