Church pushing for status quo on cloning

As human cloning becomes the focus of fresh debate after the six experts on a panel reviewing Australia's stem cell laws met for the first time in Sydney yesterday, the Church has signalled it will not accept any further relaxation of the laws that forbid cloning of human embryos.

Sydney Archdiocese health spokesman, Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Fisher (pictured), said the church would push very hard "at least to retain the status quo".

"We think even the status quo has major problems ... because it still allows the destruction of human embryos for experimental purposes," he told The Australian.

"I know to a lot of people it seems a waste (not to experiment if the embryo is to be destroyed anyway) -- but why not say that about people on death row, or in a nursing home with not long to live?"

Several states, led by Victoria, are keen to see Australia's laws brought into line with Britain's, which allow so-called therapeutic cloning, or cloning for research purposes, subject to strict licensing arrangements.

Victoria has the lion's share of Australia's biotech companies and state Treasurer John Brumby has expressed concern about Australia falling behind countries such as Britain, the US and South Korea if the laws are not relaxed.

Review committee chairman John Lockhart said he was prepared for a torrent of strongly worded submissions.

The committee, announced by the Howard Government last month to review two acts regulating embryo research, is due to report by December 19.

Human cloning review starts up (The Australian 5/7/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Life Office, Archdiocese of Sydney
Independent committee to review human cloning and embryo research legislation - 2005 (Hon Julie Bishop MP - Minister for Ageing 17/6/05)
Reviews of the Prohibition of Human Cloning Act 2002 and the Research Involving Human Embryos Act 2002 (National Health and Medical Research Council

Vatican official denounces Korean cloning breakthrough (CathNews 23/5/05)
Vatican official fears nations will ignore UN on cloning (CathNews 11/3/05)
Australia backs "Catholic" UN push on cloning (CathNews 22/11/04)
Church welcomes UN cloning ban (CathNews 10/3/05)

5 Jul 2005