Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 03 Hansard (Thursday, 3 April 2008) . . Page.. 935 ..
from Brazil. It is not quite mad scientist stuff, but there are certainly some very big issues where science loses track of ethics; where science loses track of human morality; and where science for the sake of science goes off on a tangent but is not doing the right thing.
In this case it is not even doing the practical thing, because the practical way of addressing these illnesses now has been shown to be the use of stem cells from humans. That is the way to go, and that negates the need for legislation such as this. It is a nonsense, as I have said earlier, for the government to say, “It’s a national scheme; we therefore have to support it,” given that the government never supports national schemes it does not like. It is always happy to go off on its own, whether it is right or wrong, whether the national scheme is good or bad. If it does not like it, it will not support it. But in this instance, of course, it is supporting it.
A number of other members have taken us through the history of the debate in federal parliament and the developments since, which have meant that this legislation is unnecessary and ethically and morally wrong. This legislation actually is even now medically inaccurate because of the wonderful advances made which enable ethical stem cells to be taken to cure people suffering a wide range of diseases.
MR PRATT (Brindabella) (11.44): If human cloning and embryo research are going to bring scientific benefits and save lives, then I must support the initiatives to do that. However, I believe there must be strict guidelines on how the research is managed so as not to allow reckless and inappropriate experimentation that would do more harm than good. I am not convinced that the ethics around this have been addressed in this legislation. Therefore I cannot be comfortable with it and cannot, in all conscience, support this legislation that is being debated today.
We certainly do need to do all in our power to find cures for debilitating disease, but certainly not at the expense of other human life or at the expense of what is morally acceptable. While there are exciting prospects in embryonic research work and cloning for therapeutic purposes to save life and to hopefully reverse debilitating and life-threatening conditions, legislating the support of cloning for therapeutic purposes in embryonic research should not debase the sanctity of our humanity. That is the point that I make—it goes to the heart of the ethics that form the solid foundation of humanity that we all come from and that we all want to see continued in terms of where our humanity goes to.
Should we devalue our value systems in the interests of commercially scientific agendas, then we open the dangerous door of anything goes in the devaluing of our humanity. The debate about exactly when life begins continues to rage, and I will never countenance a cheap approach to pushing aside the sanctity of early embryonic life in the interest of harvesting human eggs for whatever purpose. I will not countenance that for any purpose. Therefore, while I do support cloning for therapeutic purposes in the interest of saving lives, I will not countenance the termination of early life, and I will demand that any legislation protects the sanctity of early life.
Further, I do not support the use of stem cells from foetuses at any stage of their development. I will say that again—I do not support the use of stem cells from