Cloning Bill passes Senate – just

Despite a general expectation that the stem cell legislation would not come to a final vote until Thursday at the earliest, the whole thing was debated, a small number of amendments considered and a final vote taken, all by 9.00pm tonight.

The final vote was 34 – 32, which means if I had voted the other way, the legislation would have been defeated. (see the bottom of this post for the full list of how people voted).

I would have preferred the extra day or two to think further about the matter and discuss my concern with others, and I really didn’t reach a conclusive view in my head about how I would vote until the very final minutes. I suppose that just makes me look indecisive, but it’s an indication of how conflicting my views were (and still are) about a key issue within the legislation, and my feeling that both sides had weaknesses in their arguments that weren’t adequately addressed. My views changed quite a bit over the months as I kept examining and exploring some of the issues involved, and I can’t recall any occasion where I have been so unsure about the best way to vote.

Senator Penny Wong’s speech touched on what I believe is the key issue in this legislation, which I feel did not really get enough recognition. She quoted Frank Brennan who said:

The moral quandary confronting law makers has been determining what respect, if any, is due to the entity which is created by means of the successful transfer of the nucleus of a human adult cell into an enucleated human or animal egg.

In other words, what value do we place on an embryo clone? I don’t think the Senate has determined this very clearly at all and I am unhappy that I supported something which left this key question so poorly addressed. I did ask a question of Senator Patterson, the proponent of the legislation, at the very end of the debate seeking her response on this matter to see if that could assist in resolving my concerns. Her response didn’t fully resolve the issue for me, not that I expected it could. Still, I think it was a bit better than I had expected, which possibly influenced my final decision a little bit.

The matter of the status of an SCNT embryo was touched on in the Lockhart report (page 88), where it said “that embryos formed by fertilisation of eggs by sperm may have a different social or relational significance from embryos formed by nuclear transfer.” It was also specifically touched on, albeit briefly, in the majority report of the Senate committee inquiring into the Bill. paragraph 3.31 quite specifically stated that embryos created through cloning have a lower intrinsic value than an embryo produced by egg and sperm.

The principle that ‘all people are created equal’ is an intrinsic one. The strong inference with this legislation is that embryos created through cloning technology are different in value to other embryos. They are indeed different in some respects, but I think we clearly need to do some more thinking as a society about what value we do give to such embryos, and why.

As well as discovering over the course of the day that things were so tight that my vote could be the deciding one, I also unexpectedly found myself successful in amending the legislation to remove the ability for animal eggs to be used for the creating of embryo clones.

I had assumed there would be a range of amendments put forward, particularly by opponents to the Bill, to tease out some of the weaknesses in the arguments being used. It wasn’t until 3pm that I confirmed there wouldn’t be any amendments at all from the Bill’s opponents, so I decided then to put forward an amendment myself focussed on the use of animal eggs in cloning so that at least the issue would receive some specific consideration, given how publicly controversial it had been. By 8pm, my amendment had been agreed to without opposition.

This issue wasn’t a determining factor for me in whether or not to support the legislation, but I do think the legislation is better off without it. In these days of a government controlled Senate it is now virtually impossible for a non-government Senator to get substantial legislative amendments agreed to, and yet I suddenly found I had successfully made a substantial amendment that I had never even contemplated I would be moving until just a few hours earlier.

Mind you, whilst the amendment was successful, it actually still didn’t receive a great deal of extended debate (apart from when I spoke to my own amendment). I presume the ‘No’ side took a tactical decision to try to leave the Bill unamended and therefore as ‘unattractive’ as possible – I guess to maximise the chances of it being defeated in the Senate or the House of Representatives. None of them spoke to my amendment at all, however I presume they felt it would be too difficult for them to actually vote to allow the ability for animal eggs to be used for embryo clones.

Those in favour of the legislation seemed to be keen to just bring on the final vote as soon as possible – I presume because they had such a slim margin in favour and they were worried that waverers might change their view overnight.

My lack of enthusiasm for the vote I ended up casting in favour was such that it is possible I would have taken a different view tomorrow, so I guess in that sense their strategy worked, although the reverse situation could easily have applied in regard to where my thinking was at a particular time.

I really don’t feel that, in the main, either side of the debate adequately attempted to consider or acknowledge the views expressed by the other. A lot of the debate throughout the process felt akin to being stuck in the middle of a round of the culture wars, with all of the attendant lack of interest in genuinely engaging with any perspective or view which didn’t already match people’s predetermined position. So much of it boiled down to ‘no embryo should ever be destroyed’ versus ‘the potential to find cures and treatments should not be denied’. Both positions have their own internal validity, but they shouldn’t stand in total isolation from other issues or from the various conflicting and interconnecting principles and diverse community views that are involved.

I didn’t feel comfortable with the thought of siding with those against the Bill, particularly given the ferocity with which some of the anti-science and anti-abortion arguments were expressed. However, whilst one can’t always fully resolve moral or ethical dilemmas in situations where competing principles are in play, I wasn’t comfortable supporting the Bill when there seemed to be so little recognition of the potential problem with ascribing different worth to different types of embryos.

Still, one has to vote one way or the other at the end of it all, so I did. I could have abstained I guess, but I felt that would have been too big a cop out in these particular circumstances.

First up tomorrow, legislation seeking to remove the requirement to consider cultural background or customary law when determining bail or sentencing for a conviction under the federal Crimes Act (which I wrote about in this post six months ago).

The voting list for the final vote on the Cloning Bill

FOR:
Ruth Webber (ALP)
Natasha Stott Despoja (Dems)
Kerry Nettle (Grn)
Judith Troeth (Lib)
Judith Adams (Lib)
Trish Crossin (ALP)
Jeannie Ferris (Lib)
Kim Carr (ALP)
Kate Lundy (ALP)
Anne McEwen (ALP)
Claire Moore (ALP)
Gavin Marshall (ALP)
Alan Ferguson (Lib)
John Faulkner (ALP)
David Johnston (Lib)
Amanda Vanstone (Lib)
Carol Brown (ALP)
Penny Wong (ALP)
Bob Brown (Grn)
Jan McLucas (ALP)
Andrew Bartlett (Dems)
Andrew Murray (Dems)
Nick Sherry (ALP)
Richard Colbeck (Lib)
Kay Patterson (Lib)
Chris Evans (ALP)
Lyn Allison (Dems)
Linda Kirk (ALP)
Kerry O’Brien (ALP)
Marise Payne (Lib)
Robert Ray (ALP)
Rachel Siewert (Grn)
Russell Trood (Lib)
Dana Wortley (ALP)

AGAINST:
Gary Humphries (Lib)
Ursula Stephens (ALP)
Steve Fielding (Family First)
Eric Abetz (Lib)
Ron Boswell (Nat)
Cory Bernardi (Lib)
Barnaby Joyce (Nat)
Sandy Macdonald (Nat)
Alan Eggleston (Lib)
Nick Minchin (Lib)
Chris Ellison (Lib)
Julian McGauran (Lib)
Helen Polley (ALP)
Annette Hurley (ALP)
Santo Santoro (Lib)
Concetta Fierravanti-Wells (Lib)
Nigel Scullion (CLP)
Ross Lightfoot (Lib)
Guy Barnett (Lib)
Mark Bishop (ALP)
Paul Calvert (Lib)
Grant Chapman (Lib)
Mitch Fifield (Lib)
Bill Heffernan (Lib)
John Hogg (ALP)
Steve Hutchins (ALP)
Rod Kemp (Lib)
Joe Ludwig (ALP)
Stephen Parry (ALP)
Michael Ronaldson (Lib)
Glenn Sterle (ALP)
John Watson (Lib)

NOT PRESENT IN THE CHAMBER:
George Brandis (Lib)
Stephen Conroy (ALP)
Brett Mason (Lib)
Christine Milne (Grn)
Michael Forshaw (ALP)
Ian Macdonald (Lib)
Helen Coonan (Lib)
George Campbell (ALP)
Ian Campbell (Lib)
Fiona Nash (Nat)

(Those not present arranged informal ‘pairs’ so that those for and against cancelled each other out. I think these names are in an order where the first 5 names were opposed to the Bill, and the next 5 in favour – although that is partly guess work and I am happy to be corrected)

The legislation will now go to the House of Representatives for debate and a vote by the end of November. Reputedly there is a decent majority in support of it there, but given that the Senate outcome came down to a single vote, I wouldn’t be too sure.

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81 Comments

  1. The soul is an illusion created by human consciousness. Spirit is not individualised and particularised as the christians would have us believe.

    the closest the christians have come to the truth is the notion of the holy spirt which is not restricted by arbitrary organic events such as conception, birth and death.

  2. We are living humans, otherwise, we would not be having this discussion.

    When we were first born, we were living and human.

    Therefore, we must have been living and human before birth. Modern technology (3D Imaging)and medicine (Babies have received life-saving operations in utero) prove this correct.

    So at what point did we become living humans?

    Well, unless our parents were a duck, cat, fish, dog etc we were always destined to be human.

    So when did we become living?

    From the time there was the first indication of life ….. from the first cell being formed, dividing and multiplying.

    It was that first cell division, allowed to proceed unhindered, which resulted in each of us being the living human we are now.

    If you don’t agree with this logic,when do you think you became a living human, and when would it have been okay to experiment, research and kill you without it affecting you participating in this discussion now?

    As all of us living humans were living humans from when there was the first indication of life, why do some of us think we have the right to decide that another living human can be used for research, experimentation and death?

    Consider the words of John Martin, emeritus professor of medicine at Melbourne University:

    “There is a long way to go before a compelling argument can be made for developing human embryonic stem cells by somatic cell nuclear transfer. Whatever the nature of the science it must be ethically justified.It is up to science to show that there would be real value in the manufacture of embryos for this purpose.

    There has still been no proven success with human somatic cell nuclear transfer.

    … If proof of concept can be provided through animal experimentation perhaps a case for somatic cell nuclear transfer could be made more convincingly than can be now, but, only if we accept the questionable utilitarian principle that the end always justifies the means.” (SMH 26/07/06)

    Is this the principle you accept?

  3. Juliane said

    “Well, unless our parents were a duck, cat, fish, dog etc we were always destined to be human.”

    This is not correct unless creationism is correct.

    I have not much time for most evolutionary theories as they are mainly based on hypothesis. However it appears that modern human is an evolution of other types of human such as neanderthal or the short indonesian people just dug up recently.

    Where did this sort of human evolve from?

    If a human evolved from a simple cellular organsm, then evolved to higher organisms up to primate, are other species that also evolved from that same original organism also human?

    Does a primordial slime have the same inherent human-nes as us, or as an embryo?

    I say it does.

    Our current manifestation as homo-erectus is just a phase that the spirit is going through, like all the other species and will naturally mutate over millions of years (if we hypothetically return to sustainability) into strange new beings in the future. If we become extinct, then life on earth will go on evolving without us

    Julianne also said (back to the topic)

    “why do some of us think we have the right to decide that another living human can be used for research, experimentation and death?”

    My answer? because human beings kill to survive. It is our nature. We must kill plants and animals to survive, just like crocodiles do. We must kill the tyrant in war or the tyrant will kill us (that’s the theory anyway). some women must kill their abusive husband to survive.

    The christian illusion has literally demonised the dark side of human-ness. A crazed gunmen and paedophile priests fall into evil they drown in its overwelming ness, because they have no basic training in it. They try not to even think about it, even when they are doing it.

    We give absolute control of our inherent violence to the state to use it with police, gaols and the military. We consider it not our business and pretend we live without killing.

    cont………

  4. cont……..

    we obsess over this issue trying to define the value of an embryo when every day many of us consume more sophisticated life forms and consciousnesess for lunch.

    These higher life forms come in pre-packaged pieces at supermarkets and we are ignorantly detatched from the brutality of their death.

    Im no vegetarian but I know where meat comes from.

    If there are medical breakthroughs to be made, we should have no illusions about where stem cells come from.

    Back to question of the meaning of life. An embryo that has not yet descended into the illusions of human consciousness will remain in heaven if it is aborted. Its love, suffering, missed opportunities, human potential are all social constructs projected onto that embryo by way of our natural self identification with it the same way we continue to love and identify with someone after they die. This “humanity” is just an illusion of human consciousness which the embryo does not share.

  5. Have you been to heaven, JT?

    We already know that you’re 42 and afraid that time is running out. You told us that before.

    Despite your long dissertation, there is no denying that the human embryo is the beginning of human life, no matter what social constructs are projected onto it.

  6. Paul Walter: #45

    In answer to your question in relation to “Frankenbunnies”, there are no absolute guarantees about anything in life.

    All we can do is weigh up the potential positives against the potential negatives – and then live in hope that black-and-white thinkers don’t manage to put a spanner in the works prematurely.

  7. Coral,
    42 is the answer to life, the universe and everything, not my age.

    but apart from that,
    heaven is a construct of human consciousness as is hell and manifests as psychological states, or conceptual anchors to psychological states in human existence.

    I believe I have been to both such delusions.

    But if heaven has something to do with eternity, then I have spent at least most of my entire existence in heaven and will continue to do so after my death. Sometimes I cant decide whether I am in heaven while I am on this planet or in hell. i am still trying to work it out but the more I look into the profoundity of 42, the more I can see its direct relevence in accurately defining both heaven and hell.

    I used the word “heaven” before, somewhat teasingly I admit, refering to the state of the eternal. Not our theories within our limited brain size and limited use of brain capacity about things we do not understand. Just the simple acceptence that eternity exists on the other side of what we do understand within our limited consciousness.

    And despite your short dismissal of my long dissertation, you cannot find a rational line at life beginning at the embryo. Eggs and sperm are both driven by some force to connect up even after our adult sexual instincts are played out. That little sperm, all by himself, struggles on as a faithfull servant of god and he, if he’s the lucky one, is the building block of many generations to come, so to speak. All others are hopelessly washed down the toilet or thrown in the rubbish with all the disguarded unfertilised eggs in the feminine hygeine products.

    The oppressed majority of disguarded sperm and eggs find an ironic union in our disposal systems that they never even got close to in their short time on this mortal plane.

    But Coral, I must agree absolutely with your comment to Paul W.

    “All we can do is weigh up the potential positives against the potential negatives”

    the essence of all the ancient traditions

  8. Andrew, you mentioned your concerns (at comment #10 on this thread) with the cloned embryo developing past 14 days.

    I am interested to know why you are concerned when you voted for allowing research and expeimentation on excess IVF embryos and also voted to allow human cloned embryos to be created to be used, researched, experimented on and then killed.

    What makes the cloned embryo more human or alive after 14 days?

    Why is it okay to use, experiment, research and kill a cloned embryo up to 14 days and not after?

    Does it suddenly become human and alive after 14 days and therefore worthy of protection?

    Why doesn’t the principle,(used to justify the experimentation on human embryos in the unsubstantiated hope of magical cures), that the end always justifys the means, apply after 14 days?

    What’s changed????

    I’m confused!!!!!!

  9. Julianne

    I’m not assessing whether the law meets my personal beliefs. I’m assessing against community views, legal coherence and whether there is a logical ethical framework which would hold up in other circumstances.

    All embryos, created through cloning or otherwise, have their potential humaness developed further as they grow. 14 days is before any form of nervous system forms and most in the community recognise that this is a potential human life well short of being realised, rather than something that has full value from the moment of conception. Even those who say they believe this don’t act in a social sense as though it is true.

    While it’s not supported by everybody, our society clearly accepts abortions being carried out in certain circumstances, which affects embryos much older than 14 days. Opposing a law solely on the grounds that all embryos from day 1 should never be destroyed is completely inconsistent with existing law and social mores.

    However, creating embryos solely for research raises different issues. These may be tolerable prior any sort of nervous system developing, but become more problematic beyond that.

    Creating embryos so their cells or organs can be harvested well after a nervous system forms is not something I think our society would or should support. The danger in assuming that embryo clones have less value than other embryos is that, regardless of what that value is, it makes it more justifiable to let them continue to grow, even into fully developed humans, purely so they can be used as ‘spare parts’.

    By the way, I think dismissing the prospect that this research could help with cures not only ignores the facts, it is really opting out of the debate, which is both an ineffective and cowardly approach. As with all research, you can’t fully assess the potential unless you do it. If people opposed to this law had stuck more to the facts and acknowledged the real dilemmas involved, it would have improved their chances of success.

  10. Andrew

    I appreciate you being so honest.

    You and I were human as 14 day embroys – our humaness did not increase as we grew – we were always human, as are the 14 day cloned human embryos.

    There is currently no success with embryonic stem cell research, all the success with stem cells has been with adult stem cells.

    “…It is difficlt to support or even understand, the basis of many of the recommendations on these matters in the Lockhart report …
    A remarkable argument in the report is that an embryo is not an embryo unless it is implanted in the uterus, that it is something quite different if it stays in the laboratory and is used for research. This is pure sophistry….

    If proof of concept can be provided through animal experimentation perhaps a case for somatic cell nuclear transfer could be made more convincingly than can be now, but only if we accept the questionable utilitarian principle that the end always justifys the means.”
    John Martin, emeritus professor of medicine, Melbourne University

    Dr Monique Bladwin says:

    “… Federal Parliament’s ban on human cloning, put inplace just four years ago, should remain. There is not even the basic research evidence to justify the value of human cloning for research. More importantly, the games used by some scientists and others to obscure the real issues and bury the ethical dilemmas of experimenting with human embryos must not be allowed to dupe us”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but are you saying that 4 years ago human cloning was unacceptable, because that was the “community” view then and now it is acceptable because the “community” thinks it is?

    SO; if in four years the “community” thinks that embryos can be created from egg and sperm for research and experiments then it is okay? or if the “community” thinks that it is ok to allow cloned humans to develop so that their organs can be harvested then it’s ok?

    Does Australia now have no principles in place by which we can make ethical and moral decisions?

  11. Sounds nice, all this spiritual stuff, reincarnations etc, if you need to believe that, but to others like me, human (and all) life, is just the wonders and workings of the science of biology.

    No heaven or hell or reason for existence, we just do (exist).

  12. Julianne

    The community clearly accepts abortion under certain circumstances. You are quite entitled to have a different view, but it is not one that I support legislating in favour of. There is little point running abortion-related reasonings in regard to this current legislation – indeed I would again suggest that if many of those who opposed it had not resorted mainly to anti-abortion arguments, (along with denying the undeniable potential of the science, as you continue to do) they may have had more success.

    One of the reasons why I had little problem supporting the use of surplus IVF embryos for research in 2002 was that I did not hear a single opponent of that legislation, many of whom used the ‘sanctity of all life from the moment of conception’ argument, suggest we should move to ban IVF, even though it was only because of IVF that all these surplus embryos were being produced, and none of them were going to survive.

    “Correct me if I’m wrong, but are you saying that 4 years ago human cloning was unacceptable, because that was the “community” view then and now it is acceptable because the “community” thinks it is?”

    You’re wrong. I correct you. The process leading up to the embryonic stem cell legislation in 2002 was predicated on an initial moratorium being put in place on cloning until a subsequent review – which ended up being the Lockhart Review – was conducted. This meant no one felt we were yet ready to consider legislation regarding cloning, so no one had a problem with legislating to ban it until there had been further examiniation of the issues. Indeed, until 2002 it was not illegal to conduct cloning research, including research into reproductive cloning (which will still be illegal now of course).

    PS I don’t really think it is overly relevant to the main issue, but FWIW I do think my human-ness did increase a lot more down the track from when I was a 14 day embryo. However, maybe we are using the word ‘human-ness’ to mean different things.

  13. Thanks to Andrew for identifying and refocussing the discussion on the pivotal issue of meaningfully determing the nature and existence of actual life. The comment concerning “growing” of foetuses ( e.g. nervous system possessing beings ) for “harvesting” brings the whole topic back into sharp relief.
    Ironically, from just this proposition we escape from the ethical implications raised by people like novelist Robin Cook, who identify the problem of suffering as the underlying problem.
    Ironically, also, cloning and genetics could provide a solution, in developing non-cephalic organisms free of pain, fear or thought, as sources of harvested organs and complex tissue?
    I beleive Andrew has put a very harsh hypothetical before us, for our contemplation. Ethicists warn just how imperative only a serious consideration of certain aspects of our problem, can even be remotely contemplated.

  14. Andrew, maybe your capacity for becoming a person increased down the track.

    A 14 day old embryo is viewed by most as a non-person (no brain, no consciousness), it’s usually only the religious people that have an objection, based on their faith.

    But, you’re right you don’t see the same people accusing IVF clients of being baby killers and trying to get IVF clinics closed down – why not?

    Julianne, “Does Australia now have no principles in place by which we can make ethical and moral decisions?”

    Whose ethics and whose morals?
    People of religous faith? Not everyone believes in your God and they reject the argument that a 14 day old embryo is a person.

  15. Andrew

    OK,push moral and ethical arguments aside for now.

    Scientifically explain why the push NOW for human NSTC resarch.

    A human liver has been developed in the UK from stem cells taken from umbilical cords, and there is adult stem cell research in over 75 diseases etc

    The Lockhart Committee had no scientific evidence to indicate that the ban on human cloning should be changed.

    The success of adult stem cell research is well documented, but, there is no evidence that NSTC embryonic stem cell research will yield successful treatments.

    Embryonic stem cells by their very nature proliferate at an accelerated rate.

    The consequence of this is tumour formation.

    Potentially lethal, teratoma cancers remain a major risk and complication from the transplant of embryonic stem cells into animals.

    Why is human cloning exempt from the ethical constraints placed on other scientific research?

    The usual accepted scientific process before allowing research on humans has been to establish that the scientific process works in animals.

    Has this been established? No?

    Perhaps researchers, given permission to use excess IVF embryos for research, experimentation and destruction have made some dramtic breakthrough in the last 4 years? No?

    Perhaps, researchers in other countries have results from embryonic stem cell research?

    No?

    It is not a matter of denying the possibilities that may result from experimenting and researching human clones.

    Perhaps there will be proven success with human SCNT (cloning) in the future, but,so far, this has not occurred, even in animals.

    Current evidence shows nothing to indicate that human NSTC embryonic stem cell research with its inherent problems will yeld better results than adult stem cells, which by their nature are stable and designed for renewal of human issue.

    Money and time spent on unproven scientific research means less opportunity for Australia to be at the forefront of proven successful adult stem cell research.

  16. Julianne

    I don’t see much point pushing aside moral and ethical arguments – they are at the core of this debate.

    Suggestions that there is no evidence of substantial potential benefits from SCNT research are simply wrong. If it makes you feel better to believe this, go ahead. Just don’t expect me to accept it as a view based on the facts.

    The evidence is substantial. Large amounts of it were provided to the Senate Committee Inquiry, despite its very short timeframe. I am not a scientist. I therefore have to seek the views of those who have expertise in this area. To suggest that hundreds of them are just making this stuff up, or deliberately grossly exaggerating its potential, is fanciful.

    Very few scientists, in Australia at least, are interested in engaging in pointless research they know won’t lead anywhere.

    You are right in saying “there is no evidence that SCNT research will yield successful treatments.” This is not surprising, as the research has only just started to be carried out. However there is substantial evidence of good potential for it to assist in developing successful treatments.

    Denying this is just intellectually dishonest. As I’ve said a few times, the insistance of many of the opponents of this legislation on denying this basic fact reduces the incentive for considering other views they may express.

    To deny people the genuine possibility of cures and treatments is a major step which requires substantial justification beyond the fact it offends an individual’s moral code. It is possible to make such justifications, but it is far more convincing if people have the courage to acknowledge that this involves blocking that potential for cures and treatments, rather than just run the clearly wrong line that this research has no potential.

  17. I may not be religious but, oh God, I’m getting sick of narrow-minded, black-and-white thinkers.

    Let me try to make this clear. The 14-day-old embryo that is being argued over is a clone, with a bit of someone else’s genetic material thrown in.

    JT:

    Your comment that: “….you cannot find a rational line at life beginning at the embryo”.

    You can’t. I can.

  18. Coral,
    what is your rational line then? Why does the sperm and egg’s instinctual motivations not classify as life where their instinctual propensity to merge does?

    Can you give any explanation beyond asserting an arbitrary opinion?

  19. Andrew

    Yes, the current ethical framework regarding human life is inconsistent.

    If you accept the Sanctity of Life principle – ie. that life should be protected because it is human, from the very first creation of the cell and division – it has far reaching implications for many other aspects of society.

    No longer could we blindly accept the end always justifies the means argument.We would have to consider the intrinsic value of each human.

    What rights does a human have before and after it is born?Is it a different human before and after birth?

    Are unborn humans a commodity that can be used, abused and discarded at the whim of another human or do they have an intrinsic and inherent value by virtue of being human?

    Is our “humaness” based on another humans definition, and therefore subject to the current “community” concensus and if so, how is that gauged and on what basis?

    How do we iron out the inconsistenicies that we have allowed to creep into our society regarding the treatment of unborn humans?

    4 years ago the creation of human clones at all was deemed unacceptable by the Senate

    Some excess IVF egg/sperm embryos are destined for experimentation, research and destruction yet we don’t allow the development of egg/sperm embryos specifically for research, devlopment and destruction.

    What’s the difference???
    Why allow the development for experiments of cloned embryos and not sperm/egg embryos???

    Why allow excess IVF embryos for research and not allow creating new ones for research???

    Does our purpose decide our humaness? If human life has no intrinsic value on what basis do we draw the line?

    Why can a human sue for damage inutero, a person be charged for attempted murder of the unborn child and yet a mother abort her child and receive medicare funding?

    The value of human life is a moral and ethical issue.

    Science will always push the boundaries.

    Politicians need to provide the consistent ethical framework.

  20. JT:

    The sperm and the egg are alive, but a completely new life doesn’t commence until they unite and the conceptus commences dividing.

    I don’t know about you, but I think a case is beginning to mount for a couple of “justifiable homicides” on this particular issue.

  21. Coral,
    simply restating your simplistic opinion is no justification for a person of above average intelligence.

    why is the 2 cells new life when 1 cell leaving the ovaries or penis is not? especially the sperm who leaves the mans body completely as a separate self supporting being on a mission.

    Is not the 2 cell fusion just as dependent on the original 1 cell every bit as much as the 4 cell division requires the 2 cell state?

    why is the motivation for life that is in the sperm and egg different to the embryo’s motivation to divide and grow?

    If the sperm and egg are alive, which I’m glad you concede, why is their life less valued than the embryo?

    Are sperm and eggs less human than an embryo, if so what is the difference?

    And also Coral, you should seek anger management if discussing things with people of different opinions gives you homicidal tendencies. I understand such frustration is common amongst above average intelligence people but I have not heard of it being as extreme as homicide though. You must be really smart!

  22. JT:

    If you can’t understand what I said, even when expressed in simple terms, there’s nothing I can do about it.

    I didn’t say I was feeling homicidal. I was making a tongue-in-cheek comment on the rigid views of others.

    But yes, you are right, I am very clever. Thanks.

  23. Coral, there is a big difference between lacking understanding and not agreeing with you, though it seems they are the same to you.

    I say there can be no definitive answers to the question of where life starts. Those catholics who say every sperm is sacred draw an arbitrary line at ejaculation. You draw a line at conception. Many draw the line at the development of the nervous system, some say it is when the foetus becomes a self supporting entity that could survive outside of the womb, and late term abortion apologists draw the line at birth.

    All these lines are just egoic opinion with nothing to back them up.

    Why is your particular line so obvious that I must be stupid not to accept what you say?

    At least your so called “black and white thinkers” can explain and debate their opinion without trying to belittle those who they disagree with. Why cant you?

  24. Mr Bartlett, As you yourself have said, “I wouldn’t overstate the hope, Graham. Tangible results are likely to be a way off yet and will still probably not appear at all for some conditions” – so the question needs to be asked; Why are you voting to carry out procedures which have the sole purpose of creating, then experimenting on, then destroying embryos when the hope of significant gain is not all that good – and you have wonderful research, progress and success WITH TANGIBLE RESULTS with adult stem cell research but you are not putting your support behind this procedure and voting against this expensive practice which to date has no – I repeat NO successes on the books???

  25. Beth

    I don’t think we should overstate the hope. I also don’t think we should deny it, which seems to be what you are seeking to do. The hope of advances from this area is quite good, but is not certain, and nor is it able to be specific to a particular condition or timeframe.

    The science of this is not adult stem cell versus embryonic stem cell (whether from SCNT or other). All forms of the research are valuable and will inform each other over time.

    It is completely wrong to characterise the enabling of embryonic stem cell research as ‘not supporting’ adult stem cell research. If anything, embryonic research is likely to assist adult stem cell research to be more effective more quickly.

  26. The creation or use of embryos for scientific or medical research, for whatever reason, is something that I find abhorrent and frightening in the extreme. The idea that it is somehow ok to create human life and then perform experiments that end in its destruction has to be the most uncivilised practise I have ever heard of. I hear arguments that when simplified only claim that the ends justify the means and even then the ‘ends’ seem dubious and elusive at best.

    I won’t ramble on but suffice to say that under no circumstances should any government either condone, consider or encourage such a barbaric practice and I will be watching carefully in an attempt to identify those members who do. Come election time I will vote accordingly irrespective of any other policy or initiative that candidate may profess.

    Please, show some real leadership and prove to the country and the world that the Australia is not only civilised but leading the way.

  27. Ray,
    …and there are more of us who will be carefully watching to identify those MP’s whose vote can so callously disregard the terminal suffering of those people who are already in existence.

    If Tony Abbott wasn’t in a safe Liberal seat, I wonder if he would be rejected by the population after his controversial and conflicted handling of the Health portfolio.

  28. Andrew

    The vote has been taken and we will have to live with the consequences.

    For my part this Bill has made me determined to do everything I, with the help of God, can do, to ensure that when my children grow up, the Australian politicians will be very different to the current ones.

    It has made me realise that for too long we have been silent about protecting the most innocent and vulnerable in our society.

    It has made me realise that this silence and lack of respect for the Sanctity of Human Life is now starting to impact throughout society.

    If I can kill allow the killing of an innocent unborn baby, why not allow experiments on IVF embryos, why not allow the creation of humans to be experimented on, why not allow the disabled and those who are a burden on society to be killed, ?

    Nearly 1000 people a day have been registering their protest against this Bill.

    You do not represent them and their values. You do not represent their idea of what is best for Australia.

    I pray for my childrens times, the politicians will be ones of moral fortitude, with strong principles who are prepared to stand up and defend the weak and who will realise that to allow the creation of a human life whose sole purpose and reason for existence is so that they can provide cells for another person is horrific.

    I pray that the Australia of the future is one where all are considered worthy of protection, not because we are “wanted”.

    I pray that the Australia of the future is one where our worthiness is not determined by some unknown quantity, decided by politicians.

    I pray that the Australia of the future is one where all – sick,dying,disabled, elderly, newly formed – are cherishd and protected because we are each unique humans with an intrinsic value and soul, created in the image of God.

    “I knew you before you were born – I have carved you in the palm of my hand”

    May God bless you and your family.

    A politicians path is not easy, but you have the opportunity to do much good.

  29. Julianne:

    I have a question I’d like you to answer, please.

    How can the sick, dying, disabled, elderly and newly formed be cherished and protected, when you are so hell-bent on denying them access to new treatments?

    Surely leaving people to suffer and die from dreadful diseases (including newborns and the unborn) cannot be classified as being cherished or protected. I’d call that being neglected and abused.

    Every couple of days, doctors and scientists are reporting advances in treating illnesses and disabilities with stem cells.

    Yesterday I saw a dog on TV that had been cured of a neurological disease, with potential for a human cure also.

    If there is a God, I don’t think he/she would be too impressed with your inflexible attitude towards your fellow human being.

  30. …and surely Julianne, your God made it possible, through the skills and intellect that he gave humans, to perform this research and further assist mankind (created in his own image etc?).

    The scientific researchers are just realising the potential that your God gifted them.

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