Poll shows Australians against cloning, Campion Director says

Fifty-one percent of Australians oppose cloning human embryos as a source of stem cells, according to a survey sent to all federal MPs by Sydney's Campion College Director Rev Dr John Fleming.

The Age reports that Dr Fleming of Campion College, a Catholic liberal arts college in Sydney, said in a letter to MPs yesterday it had always been assumed Australians overwhelmingly supported therapeutic cloning.

The report says that a recent Morgan poll found 80 per cent backing but "more sophisticated" polling showed a different result, he wrote.

He also highlighted that the survey found "48 per cent of respondents believed that they were capable of changing the way they vote at the next Federal election depending on their local members' and senators' stances on therapeutic cloning."

Dr Fleming supervised the research by Sexton Marketing in his capacity as Adjunct Professor of Bioethics at Southern Cross Bioethics Institute.

The national survey of 1200 done by Sexton Marketing in January this year found nine out of 10 people were aware of stem cell research. Assuming equal benefits, 40 per cent preferred research using adult stem cells, 4 per cent preferred the use of embryonic stem cells and 51 per cent had no preference.

Nearly three in 10 supported the cloning of human embryos as a source of stem cells; 12 per cent were neutral and 51 per cent opposed it, the Age report said.

Meanwhile, Australian Catholic University and Notre Dame Professor Fr Frank Brennan has lashed out at the Government over its decision to allow a conscience vote on cloning research.

In a talk to the Sydney Guild of St Luke and the Thomas More Society published in today's Australian, he said that there has not been sufficient change in the state of scientific knowledge nor in community's opinion since the Senate's "detailed consideration" of the issue in 2002 to warrant a need for another conscience vote.

"The Lockhart committee was asked to review the legislation in the light of changed community standards and developments in research," he said. "There has been some progress over the past four years with research using adult stem cells. But in those jurisdictions which allow embryonic stem cell research, there have been no breakthroughs."

"The science has not changed, the moral arguments have not changed, community standards have not changed," he stressed.

"It should take more than a handful of scientists seeking out more value-free research environments for our politicians to change their conscience vote," he said.

Cloning can affect votes, MPs told (The Age, 22/8/06)
Frank Brennan: It's still embryonic (The Australian, 22/8/06)

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Abbott lashes "evangelical" stem cell scientists (CathNews, 21/8/06)
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)
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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)
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22 Aug 2006