Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (10 April) . . Page.. 932 ..
MR SMYTH (continuing):
At six days, the merging of the sperm and the egg is complete. My understanding is that, between day six and approximately day 14, the only thing that may occur is that that six-day-old cluster of cells may divide a second time to create two clusters of cells-twins. I have twins, and am very much aware of that process.
I would caution people, before we stand here and make proclamations, that we should look at the information that will become available.
I believe this is a discussion that should go on, and I think we should look at what is presented on both sides. But, for me, it comes back to a fundamental question. I would put to all members: does the destruction of the six-day-old clusters themselves-the destruction of what I regard as a human being, the embryo-justify what we seek? I think that is a really hard question to answer.
Yes, to find the cures would be tremendous; yes, to relieve people of suffering, pain or conditions, or of not having the full potential that others have, would be a wonderful thing, but are we denying those six-day-old clusters of cells that fundamental right?
The Chief Minister has pointed out that there is a conscience vote on this-and it is a matter of conscience. We, in the Liberal Party, will be exercising our consciences. I hope everybody does it with an informed conscience. I hope people seek out information, and try to find out as much as they can about this issue.
I will say it one more time, although I have said it several times already. When we get down to it, the basic question is: what is that six-day-old cluster of cells in the petri dish that we call an embryo? It is a question that has never been answered, and I believe that if you apply the precautionary principle, and look at it, that six-day-old cluster of cells-the embryo-is a potential human being, and should be protected.
MRS DUNNE (4.13): This is a matter of public importance-the potential for stem cell research to benefit society. It is all-encompassing, it is "wow"-it is out there. Somewhere, as Mr Smyth has said, we may find a holy grail that will be the solution to a range of diseases. Some of those were listed earlier today by Ms Gallagher. We may be able to find the solution for diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and spinal cord injury. Ms Gallagher also mentioned cystic fibrosis.
Cystic fibrosis is something that is close to my heart. Most of you would know that two of my five children-Olivia and Connor-suffer from cystic fibrosis. At the same time, because I am so close to this as an issue, it makes me pause. I always come back to the answer that personal cases and personal experience make bad law. I have had discussions about this over some time-and recently also with my daughter, Olivia. Some people say to me, "But if you could find a cure for their disease, wouldn't it be worth it?" The answer that always comes back to me is: "Not at the cost of somebody else's life." The end does not justify the means.
With stem cell research, we need to be talking about two things. I heard this morning, when listening to the ABC-I think it was AM-of some groundbreaking research, which has been done in the United States, using human stem cells from the brain to treat