Vic Parliament votes for cloning
Despite opposition from Melbourne's Catholic and Anglican archbishops, Victoria's parliament has adopted a bill legalising "therapeutic" cloning, with 15 MPs crossing the floor in a conscience vote.
The Age reports that members of the Labor Government, the Liberal Party and the Nationals voted against party colleagues last night as the conscience vote supported the stem-cell draft legislation by 58 votes to 25 votes.
The Liberal Party was the most divided, with 10 members including leader Ted Baillieu, his deputy Louise Asher and former leader Denis Napthine all crossing to vote with the bulk of the Government in favour of the new laws.
Sports Minister James Merlino, Christine Campbell and Tammy Lobato opposed the bill, as expected, and were joined by their Labor colleague Colin Brooks.
Benalla MP Bill Sykes was the only National Party member to support the motion, which went to the committee stage last night and, if passed, is expected to find a path through the upper house more difficult.
Introduced last month by Health Minister Bronwyn Pike, the legislation would allow Victorian scientists to clone human embryos for medical research through somatic cell nuclear transfer, commonly known as therapeutic cloning.
The conscience vote came after an emotion-charged marathon debate, which lasted close to eight hours across two sitting days.
Despite calls from Melbourne's Catholic and Anglican archbishops for MPs to oppose the legislation, Ms Pike used the final speech before the vote to argue that religious faith could be a reason to support the legislation.
"Religious texts consistently exhort human beings to have a far more sophisticated expression of living - real life to me is about reaching out to potential," she said.
"I think we have an obligation to nurture a much fuller expression of life, a higher quality of life."
But Liberal member for Malvern Michael O'Brien said he could not support the legislation, despite its potential to treat "old afflictions".
"This bill does represent an instance of our grasp of the possible exceeding our ethical reach; accordingly I'm unable to support it," he said.
"This bill commits the creation of embryos for the specific purpose of their research and their destruction - motive does matter, intent is important."
House supports cloning bill (The Age, 19/4/07)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Stem cells (Wikipedia)
Archbishop Denis Hart (Wikipedia)
Hart confronts Braks over cloning legislation (CathNews, 12/4/07)
Bracks defies Pope on cloning (CathNews, 19/3/07)
Archbishop Hart condemns cloning laws (CathNews, 14/3/07)
Christianity not driver in cloning vote: Garrett (CathNews, 19/12/06)
Christian opposition fails to stop cloning bill passage (CathNews, 7/12/06)
Late amendment puts cloning bill passage in doubt (CathNews, 6/12/06)
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)
Parents of baby adopted as frozen 'waste' fight embryonic research (16/4/07)
19 Apr 2007