As of 31 August 2014 some 1,167 human embryos, who were initially fertilised for use in reproductive technology such as IVF, were destroyed in Australia in experiments authorised by licenses issued by the National Health and Medical Research Council Licensing Committee established under the Commonwealth’s Research Involving Human Embryos Act 2002.
The experiments in which these tiniest human lives are taken include those related to improving IVF success rates through changing the media in which embryos are cultured before implantation; developing search and destroy screening methods to identify genetic and other “defects” in human embryos so they can be thrown away instead of implanted; training technicians in human embryo biopsy; and deriving human embryonic stem cells.
Additionally 104 human embryos have been deliberately created through somatic cell nuclear transfer (a method of cloning) or parthenogenesis (stimulation of an ovum to mimic fertilisation) and then destroyed. The aim of these experiments is also to derive human embryonic stem cells, but none of these experiments in Australia have succeeded to date.
Thankfully, none of these deadly experiments have taken place in Western Australia because seven years ago legislation that would have permitted them failed to pass through parliament. The Human Reproductive Technology Amendment Bill 2007 was defeated in the Legislative Council of Western Australia on 6 May 2008 by 18 votes to 15.
One of the 18 good MPs who voted down this bad Bill is the Hon Ed Dermer. He played a leading role in its defeat, patiently explaining the relevant science to his parliamentary colleagues, and persuading them that cloning was not necessary to pursue the genuine promise of stem cell therapies.
We need virtuous and wise people in our parliaments, not only to pass good legislation, but also to block bad legislation. Christians should constantly pray that God will strengthen upright members of our state and federal parliaments and increase their numbers. As the Apostle Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:1-3, “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour”.