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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 4 Hansard (1 April) . . Page.. 1572..


MR SMYTH (continuing):

limit, that will be useful for the debate. I suspect there is no answer. I suspect it is just a number that has been plucked out of the air. Hopefully the minister explain why.

The idea of a cure is very tempting but the destruction of a life is a huge price to pay. I think it is a price that debases us as a country and as a jurisdiction. I think it is a price that we will regret in years to come as we make people more and more immune to the value of life, to the sanctity of life and to the glory of life. Every time we make a law that chips away at protecting the most vulnerable-in this case the unborn-we chip away at the very essence of what we are: a fair-minded society that, probably better than anywhere else in the world, has reached an egalitarian place of respect for each other. The Australian attitude of mateship is something we ought to value but I think legislation like this undoes that attitude. The more we become inured to the destruction of life the more we are accepting of that. I feel that the passing of the Human Embryo (Research) Bill 2004 will further add to that slippery slope that moves us towards not respecting life at all. For those reasons I will not be voting for this bill.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Detail stage

Clauses 1 to 9, by leave, taken together and agreed to.

Clause 10.

MS TUCKER (8.38): I move amendment No 1 circulated in my name [see schedule 4 at page 1615].

This amendment goes to the heart of why I have concerns about this piece of legislation, the Human Embryo (Research) Bill 2004. It is a very significant piece of legislation. For me, being asked to vote on whether human embryos can be used for research and commercial exploitation almost has a sense of unreality. It raises so many fundamental questions about the role of research, the corporate sector and the value of life. On the value of life in this place we have had intense debates relating to abortion. In that debate the central issue for me is the relationship between the embryo and the mother, in whose body the embryo is situated, and the right of the mother to control what happens to her body and her life. I have supported this right and believe that the moral foundation supporting this right derives from the relationship between the mother and embryo in utero. I have also supported the right to abortion for the obvious public health benefits of ensuring that safe abortion is available and that women can seek the support they need in contemplating or dealing with an abortion without fear or prosecution. But I have also always expressed concern that there must be as much done as possible to avoid abortions being necessary, including sex education, accessible contraception and proper support for women who wish to have a child. The "waste not, want not"argument, also put by proponents, fails to address the fundamental question.

Society has accepted the existence of spare embryos as a consequence of infertility treatment. I would argue here that the relationship between the mother and the embryo is also an important moral argument and justification for IVF and the consequential production of spare embryos, although I would point out that, once again, we have had technology overtake any real opportunity to have an ethical discussion about this. At the


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