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Federal Parliament passes human cloning bill


by Dwight A. Randall

On Wednesday, 6 December 2006 the Prohibition of Human Cloning for Reproduction and the Regulation of Human Embryo Research Amendment Bill 2006 passed the House of Representatives.

Senator Kay Patterson is credited with the bill. In 2002, at the time of the Lockhart Review, she expressed strong opposition to human cloning, but in a complete turn-around, in 2006 she became one of the most vocal advocates of cloning.

All Western Australian members of the House of Representatives, with the exception of Don Randall (Liberal, Canning) voted for the Bill, which was sponsored in the House by Dr Mal Washer (Liberal, Joondalup). Kim Beazley (Labor, Brand) declared his support for the Bill, but was absent for the vote when it took place.

Senator Patterson’s “solution” for overcoming the problem of obtaining thousands of human eggs for cloning was to permit the production of human/animal hybrids using rabbit or cow eggs. These hybrids or chimeras, have also been called “Frankenbunnies” in countries where this is already taking place. Thankfully (and somewhat surprisingly), Senator Andrew Bartlettmoved a successful amendment to ban human/animal hybrids in the Senate, but not all other doors were closed.

In the House of Representatives, an amendment to ban the use of eggs removed from female human fetuses in order to create human embryos (for experimentation and destruction) was moved by Michael Ferguson (Liberal, Bass). He succinctly stated, “In plain terms, if this bill succeeds in this House without amendment, it will be quite possible in the future under Australian law for an aborted female foetus to become the mother, if you like, of an embryo which will itself be destroyed by research.”

Sophie Mirabella (Liberal, Indi) spoke in support of Ferguson’s amendment: “...how dare we propose that a doctor be authorised to approach her [a woman about to have an abortion] and suggest that the aborted baby effectively be made a mother of a human embryo that will also be destroyed? This is sick science and this is bad law, and I urge every member of this House to support the amendment.”

To the absolute shame of the House, the amendment was defeated by 76-53.

This vote illustrates the determination of the majority of members of the House of Representatives to pass this repugnant Bill no matter what. It seems that the majority of members must believe that abortion—even late term abortion, and specifically late term abortion of female babies with developed ovaries and eggs capable of fertilisation—is justifiable and should be lawful.

Furthermore, it seems that they must also believe that robbing eggs from aborted female babies, thus making them the mothers of human clones created in order to be dissected and killed, is justifiable and should be lawful.

If our members of parliament are unwilling to ban such brutal and morally depraved acts, what will they conceive of and argue for next? Lifting the 14 day limit on clones? Growing clones to the point that their organs can be harvested? Creating a lesser class of human/animal hybrids for parts or service or gratification?

It is to our peril to forget recent history. In a remarkably short span of time, Germany’s long-standing history of compassion and humaneness turned into merciless hardness. Germany’s mass extermination program started in 1939 with the gassing of four German men in a psychiatric hospital overseen by a group of physicians. It was brought to a halt a half-a-dozen years later after more than 7,500,000 people were sent to concentration camps, of whom only 500,000 survived.

During that period human bodies were utilized in various ways. Human fat was used to make soap, human hair was used to make felt hats and mattresses, human ash was used as fertilizer.

Now, only sixty years later, our federal government has just approved the utilization and destruction of human clones. How will Australia’s history unfold over the next decades?

We should remind ourselves of Dr Christoph Huffeland’s (1762 – 1836) caution, “If the physician [we could add politician] presumes to take into consideration in his work whether a life has value or not, the consequences are boundless and the physician [politician] becomes the most dangerous man in the state.”

Governor Michael Jeffries gave the Royal Assent to the Bill on 12 December 2006.

Dr David van Gend, national director of Do No Harm! Australians for Ethical Stem-Cell Research, describes the vote in favour of cloning as a victory for organised lying: “Brutal legislation that permits the creation of human young as mere raw material for research, has been achieved by systematic scientific deception. And even on the day of the vote [in the Senate], science lobbyists were deceiving the public by denying the most brutal aspect of this Bill—that it lets aborted baby girls be used as ‘mothers’ of cloned embryos.”

He continues, “Some scientists have shown they are prepared to do ‘whatever it takes’ to get liberal legislation on cloning:

-- Fairy tales about cloning being used to treat Alzheimer’s or diabetes in humans—when, in truth, all it does in animals is cause tumours and genetic damage.

-- Continual denigration of the magnificent and ethical field of adult stem-cell science, in reality so superior to cloning for both research and treatment.

-- Hiding from the public the fact that embryonic stem-cells remain entirely unusable in humans, due to tumour formation, while adult stem-cells are being safely used in over 1,200 human trials.

-- Vicious personal attacks on adult stem-cell scientists who dare to point out the true technical limitations of cloning.

After the passing of the cloning bill through the Federal Parliament in December, Alan Carpenter and several other State Premiers who previously expressed opposition to human cloning stated that they would introduce bills in their respective States to mirror federal law.WA Health Minister, Jim McGinty, has also publicly stated that he will push for human cloning to be introduced into Western Australia following the Federal legislation.

Cloning has been banned in Western Australia since 1991. In 2003 both Houses voted to maintain and strengthen the ban on cloning. The position of the Western Australian Government as late as July 2006 was that there was no scientific case or shift in public opinion to justify considering lifting the ban.

What can you do?

1. Pray.

2. Express your thanks to Don Randall, the only WA Member of the House of Representatives who voted against the bill. Also express your thanks to the following WA Senators who voted against the bill: Mark Bishop, Alan Eggleston, Chris Ellison,Ross Lightfoot, and Glen Sterle. Send letters c/- Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600.

3.Write or call WA Minister for Health, Jim McGinty, and express your opposition to mirror legislation in Western Australia. Call 9220 5000 or send a letter to 4th Floor, London House, 216 St Georges Tce, PerthWA 6000.

4.Determine to persist in the face of evil, and to continue to “fight the good fight”, even when setbacks seem so frequent.

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