The Australian Parliament is currently debating whether to allow the creation of embryos specifically for embryonic stem-cell research. Passage of the bill would radically reverse a decision taken by Parliament in 2002, preventing human cloning.
In 2002, Australia adopted legislation that allows embryonic stem-cell lines to be extracted from viable human embryos “left over” from the process of in vitro fertilization, but it prevented the creation of embryos for research.
The issue will be put to a vote of conscience in Parliament. The bishops say they hope Parliamentarians will reject the bill.
“The Catholic Church is not opposed to stem cell research,” the bishops’ statement says. “On the contrary, we are strong supporters of research based on adult stem cells, as well as those which are derived from umbilical cord blood.
“Since 2002, there have been no significant scientific developments to justify more permissive legislation and no change in the fundamental ethical issues,” the statement reads.
The bishops argue that the new bill creates “a new contempt for life” by “creating embryos purely for the purpose of destruction” and “introducing new categories of human embryos, including clones and embryos with mixed DNA.”
“Introducing cloning and the mixing of human and animal genetic material into this field of research only compounds the promotion of curiosity over ethics,” the bishops say.
“Many Australians are afflicted by terrible suffering and we share with them the hope for a cure or effective treatment,” the bishops say. “But allowing scientists open slather on human embryos for research is not the way forward.”
.- While everyone wants to find cures for disease and to alleviate suffering, this cannot be done “by creating and then killing human life,” the Australian bishops said in opposition to a bill that proposes the creation of embryos for research.