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Australian Bishops say Parliament has 'crossed dangerous line' on embryos

The Australian Parliament has created "class of human life which is statutorily expendable" said Adelaide's Archbishop Philip Wilson following yesterday's passing of legislation allowing the use of embryonic stem cells in medical research.

Speaking on behalf of the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference, he said Parliament has "crossed a new and dangerous line" by passing laws allowing the intentional destruction of human life.

Archbishop Wilson said the new laws sacrificed human life for profit.

"Human life now becomes a commercial commodity. Under these laws, human life is for sale."

Archbishop Wilson questioned whether politicians had listened to the will of the people on the question of using embryos for stem cell research, saying of the 1,851 submissions received by the Senate Community Affairs Committee, only 48 were in support of the Bill.

"The passage of this Bill is evidence of the continuing slide towards wholesale creation and destruction of human life for various unproven medical and commercial uses," he said.

Archbishop Wilson said while he was profoundly saddened at the new embryonic stem cell research laws, he welcomed the recent passage of legislation banning human cloning.

On that issue, Parliament had voted emphatically to preserve the uniqueness of each human being, he said.

"Cloning, however executed and for whatever goals, distorts the human meaning of procreation, which is no longer considered for reproductive and relational reasons but programmed for medical, experimental and commercial purposes," Archbishop Wilson said.

Meanwhile Catholic Health Australia CEO Francis Sullivan said it was "a sad day which reflects the growing trend to make utilitarian decisions which erode the value of life in the face of short term, expedient commercial and powerful interests"

"Despite the overwhelming evidence to the Senate, precious little reasonable amendment to the Bill was tolerated," he said. "So much for the public input during the Committee Inquiry stage."

"If the end game was to advance medical research in the interests of human life, this legislation effectively undermines the shared value and worth of at least one stage of human life."

Australian Catholic Bishops Conference/Catholic Health Australia

Stem cell Bill passes (Herald-Sun)
Senate clears way for research use of human embryos (Sydney Morning Herald)
Stem cell laws rile Harradine (The Mercury)
IVF bill protest (New Zealand Herald)
Australia must not allow embryos to be stockpiled, says Anglican Archbishop, Dr Peter Jensen (Anglican Media)
Embryo research opponents look set to lose battle (11/11/02)
Catholic Health calls for delay in embryo research bill (24/6/02)
Report on the ACBC & friends hearing before the Senate Thursday 27/9/02
Embryo cell row clouds PM's visit to Pope (26/6/02)
Moral theologian speaks out agains discarding embryos (27/9/02)
Shift to belief that life begins instantly (2/8/02)
IVF researcher apologises to Catholic for 'irrational' slur (5/8/02)
Catholic bishops call on PM to present all the facts on stem cells (23/5/02) | text (PDF)

6 Dec 2002