Abbott lashes "evangelical" stem cell scientists

Controversy continues in the parliamentary stem cell debate with Health Minister Tony Abbott raising fears over the possible creation of human-animal hybrids and lambasting "evangelical scientists" as peddlers of hope over their therapeutic cloning claims.

Mr Abbott has told the ABC's Insiders program that despite the findings of the Lockhart review which recommended allowing limited stem cell research, he does not think changes should be made.

"What we are seeing at the moment is a lot of peddling of hope, but no great evidence that these new and radical research techniques are actually going to produce the breakthroughs that some of the more evangelical scientists are claiming for them," he said.

Mr Abbott says therapeutic cloning is a "slippery slope" to human cloning.

"Creating potential human life not to give life but to give the scientists a bit more of a leg-up is fraught with danger," he told the ABC.

However, Labor's health spokeswoman Julia Gillard told Channel Ten that Mr Abbott's remarks are inappropriate.

"I think Tony Abbott as Health Minister has actually got an obligation to keep the debate calm and keep it focused on the facts," she said.

"Instead he believes it is his job to run in with the most inflammatory language he can think of.

"No one in federal Parliament is advocating human cloning, that is, the complete reproduction of human beings.

"For Tony Abbott to talk about that as sort of Dolly the sheep cloning, which is the kind of terminology he's used, is calculated in my view to misinform the public."

Democrats Senator Natasha Stott Despoja also says the federal Health Minister should not stand in the way of a debate on stem cell research.

(ABC News, 21/6/06)
'Hysterical' Abbott sparks Liberal row

Abbott remains unconvinced of stem cell benefits (ABC News, 20/8/06)
Fears Abbott misleading stem cell debate (ABC News, 20/8/06)

Catholic parliamentarians in firing line again over stem cells (CathNews, 16/8/06)
Catholic union official compares therapeutic cloning to Nazi experiments (CathNews, 4/8/06)
Premiers face stem cell backlash as Hart criticises debate (CathNews, 24/7/06)
Catholics divided over stem cells (CathNews, 14/7/06)
Don't lift ban on cloning, says Brennan (CathNews, 23/6/06)
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Pell says Australia changing its mind on abortion (CathNews, 15/2/06)
Catholic groups decry Senate vote (CathNews, 10/2/06)
Catholic and Evangelical students join Muslims in RU-486 fight (CathNews, 9/2/06)
Abbott says attacks are sectarian (CathNews, 9/2/06)
Bishop Fisher says RU406 won't curb abortions (CathNews, 7/2/06)
Catholic GPs ready to quit over RU-486 (CathNews, 3/2/06)
Life Office criticises advertiser's gag on abortion debate (CathNews, 1/2/06)
Churches lead RU406 protest (CathNews, 30/1/06)
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Melbourne Archbishop says maintain abortion drug ban (CathNews, 25/1/06)
Pope says 'no' to gay marriage, abortion pill (CathNews, 13/1/06)
Catholic Health to address abortion pill inquiry (CathNews, 15/12/05)

Abbott attacked on cloning claims (The Australian, 21/8/06)

21 Aug 2006