Pell slams "open slather" for stem cell research

Attacking an "immoral" NSW parliamentary bill to overturn a ban on stem cell research, Sydney Cardinal George Pell says it would "roll back the few remaining barriers to the regular destruction of early human life".

The controversial bill to overturn the current ban on stem cell research, also known as Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer, is due to be debated in the lower house of state parliament today, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

MPs from both sides of politics will be allowed a conscience vote on the legislation, which would allow therapeutic cloning but maintains the ban on human reproductive cloning.

If passed, the legislation would bring NSW in line with the Commonwealth, which overturned a ban on therapeutic cloning in December 2006.

But both the Anglican and Catholic churches are asking MPs to vote against the bill.

Cardinal Pell said all members of parliament should reject the cloning of human embryos for experimentation and destruction.

"No Catholic politician, indeed no Christian or person with respect for human life who has properly informed his conscience about the facts and ethics in this area should vote in favour of this immoral legislation," he said in a statement.

"If this bill is passed, the enemies of human life will soon be back with further proposals, disguised with sweet words and promises of cures, to roll back the few remaining barriers to the regular destruction of early human life."

Cardinal Pell said NSW should not simply follow the commonwealth's lead in overturning the therapeutic cloning ban.

"The Catholic Church in NSW, through grants and through its hospitals and research institutes, is a promoter of ethical stem cell research on adult and umbilical cord stem cells," he said.

"But allowing scientists open slather on human embryos for unethical research is not the best way forward."

But NSW Premier Morris Iemma, a Catholic, has previously said he would support the bill, describing it as a "balanced package" which would offer hope to thousands of people suffering otherwise incurable diseases.

MPs to debate ban on therapeutic cloning (Sydney Morning Herald, 5/6/07)
Don't overturn clone ban: church leaders (Sydney Morning Herald, 5/6/07)
No Catholic could in good conscience vote for Cloning Bill – NSW Bishops (Cardinal George Pell, Media Release, 4/6/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Life Office
Cloning (Wikipedia)

Life office slams human "sub-class" Vic cloning law (CathNews, 11/5/07)
Hart confronts Bracks 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)

5 Jun 2007