Cloning fight not over, say clerics

Leading Catholic bishops and other Christian leaders have slammed the passing by the Senate of the human cloning bill for potentially setting Australia on a dangerous path.

Hobart Archbishop Adrian Doyle described the Senate result in a statement yesterday as "extremely disappointing" saying that there is now "a real prospect, if the Bill becomes law, our society could be heading down a very dangerous path".

"However, despite suggestions from supporters of the Patterson Bill, this legislation still has a long way to go before it does become law," Archbishop Doyle said.

"This legislation still has to be approved by the House of Representatives and given the very narrow Senate vote in favour of it, there is still no certainty that it will gain that approval," he added.

Meanwhile, Sydney's Cardinal George Pell, praised senators who led the fight against the Bill, saying they had done "better than expected", the Sydney Morning Herald says.

"The fine print of the Bill now needs to be scrutinised closely and the advocates of change asked what is up their sleeve for the next stage," Cardinal Pell said.

President of the Australian Bishops Catholic Conference, Philip Wilson, also said the closeness of the vote, 34-32, was a "reflection of the way people are pondering these issues in the community".

Sydney Anglican Archbishop Peter Jensen also weighed in saying that if Australians understood the legislation they would be appalled.

Dr Jensen said he was deeply disappointed and called the manufacture of human embryos for experimentation "a moral affront and a failure to appreciate the God-given value and dignity of human life".

Sydney Morning Herald religious writer, Julie Rowbotham, highlights the fact that the dispute over the bill centres on the definition of when life begins.

Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney's Life Office executive director Brigid Vout put the Catholic position saying: "Human life begins when you have a one-cellular being, so that includes the zygote, whether it is created by fertilisation of an egg by a sperm naturally, or via IVF, or by cloning.

"Because from that moment that cell has all the necessary genetic material and power or capacity to drive its own growth and development. Nothing needs to be added other than time and nurture for that one-cell human being to become an embryo, a fetus, a child."

Rowbotham sums up the positions of the various churches saying that "generally speaking, Catholics and conservative Christians are against it while liberal Christians, Jews and Muslims give it qualified support".


A question of life (The Australian, 9/11/06)

Clerics blast cloning vote (The Age, 9/11/06)
Embryo cloning struggle not over yet (Archbishop Adrian Doyle, Media Release, 8/11/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Australian Senate
Prohibition of Human Cloning for Reproduction and the Regulation of Human Embryo Research Amendment Bill 2006 (Australian Senate)

Lobbying fails in narrow Senate vote on cloning bill (CathNews, 8/11/06)
Cloning bill still to be won, says Catholic Health (CathNews, 6/11/06)
Pell slams "pro-cloners" (CathNews, 2/11/06)
No cloning cures for Catholics, says Bishop Fisher (CathNews, 23/10/06)
Bishops step up campaign against cloning (CathNews, 20/10/06)
Proponents of therapeutic cloning should cool it: Pell (CathNews, 25/8/06)
Catholic groups reject claims of stem cells breakthrough (CathNews, 24/8/06)
Poll shows Australians against cloning, Campion Director says (CathNews, 22/8/06)
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)
Catholics divided over stem cells (CathNews, 14/7/06)

9 Nov 2006