Church 'regret' at embryo cloning approval

A government report backing the easing of laws on cloning and embryo research is a "matter of great disappointment and sadness", says the president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Francis Carroll.

CLICK HERE"This will be the first time that cloning has been allowed in Australia," he told the Catholic Weekly.

"It is a matter of regret and a further step towards reducing the respect and dignity of human life," said Archbishop Carroll, who is Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn.

The Church and other pro-life supporters have condemned a Federal Government report recommending an easing of laws on cloning and embryo research.

Under the recommendations, scientists would be able to perform controversial procedures, including the creation of cloned human embryos for scientific study, the mixing of animal and human material to obtain stem cells and the creation of embryos from the DNA of two or more people.

Catholic Health Australia CEO Francis Sullivan said yesterday that the Review will "provide great succour to elements of the scientific community and those determined to spin a socially acceptable line on experimentation on human embryos".

"Yet the Review undermines the inherent dignity of human embryos and opens them to a research world previously the precinct of animals," he said. "It is at least pleasing to see that some senior Cabinet ministers have seen through the ruse and are calling destructive embryo experimentation for what it is, the taking of human life."

Mr Sullivan warned that opponents of destructive embryo experimentation should not be lured into a passive, supposedly neutral public debate, by others seeking to take the passion out of this issue.

"It is absolutely natural to be passionate about human life, especially when it is being harmed, or even worse, destroyed," he said. "Science has the potential to teach us and guide us, but the community needs to understand the risk to all human life a one dimensional perspective will bring."

Mr Sullivan said that although the prospect of significant biotechnological investment can woo some and will persuade others, the fundamental threat to the preservation of human life "should engage us all and temper the enthusiasts who once again will seek to spin us into a world where all illness and disability becomes curable".

The Minister for Ageing, Julie Bishop, who commissioned the report, said the review would be discussed at February's Premiers' Conference.

She said the conference could lead to a parliamentary conscience vote, depending on what changes were proposed.

The report also urged the creation of a national stem cell bank and recommended it be operated at the Australian Stem Cell Centre at Monash University in Melbourne.

Mr Lockhart said the continued use of both adult and embryonic stem cells was important for Australia "to maintain its role as a leader in the advancement of high quality and ethically sound scientific research and medical practices".

But the committee agreed that the existing prohibitions in place to prevent reproductive cloning and the placement of prohibited embryos in the body of a woman should be maintained.

'Regret' at embryo cloning approval (Catholic Weekly 25/12/05)
Pro cloning spin misleads - human enbryos belittled! (Catholic Health Australia 21/12/05)

Church reacts to embryo cloning advance (CathNews 20/12/05)

Enactment of Cord-Blood Stem Cell Act Is Praised (Zenit 20/12/05)

22 Dec 2005