Pell calls for stem cell research ban

Cardinal George Pell is pushing to wind back stem cell research laws, warning the destruction of embryos for science has created "a class of human life which is statutorily expendable".

The Age reports that, in his submission to a Government inquiry into laws covering cloning and the use of embryos for research, the Sydney Archbishop said the scientific justification for using embryos had diminished since the laws were passed in 2002.

But scientists are pushing for laws to be extended to allow somatic cell nuclear transfer or "therapeutic cloning", in which embryos are created specifically for their stem cells and then destroyed when they are a few days old.

Stem cells, which can grow into different types of tissue, offer hope for treating a range of diseases from Parkinson's to diabetes.

Under the existing laws, scientists can use embryos left over from IVF treatment which would be destroyed anyway for research, including the creation of embryonic stem cell lines.

The National Health and Medical Research Council has granted licences allowing research on 1731 spare IVF embryos since the 2002 laws were passed.

A panel headed by former Federal Court Judge John Lockhart, QC, is now reviewing the laws and will recommend to state and federal governments whether changes are needed.

Cardinal Pell, who will today address the National Press Club in Canberra, called for a ban on all research that involves destroying embryos or, at least, no extension to the laws.

He said access to spare IVF embryos for the past two years had not "led to a significant advance in knowledge".

Pell calls for stem cell research ban (The Age 21/9/05)

Pell announces new grant for adult stem cell research (CathNews 26/7/05)
Cardinal Pell hails stem cell discovery (CathNews 22/3/05)
Sydney Archdiocese announces Church funding for adult stem cell research (CathNews 26/3/03)

Holy See Asks U.N. to Clarify "Reproductive Health" (Zenit 19/9/05)

21 Sep 2005