Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 8 April 2008) . . Page.. 1070 ..
This was reported some time later in Canberra, but I saw these reports some weeks ago.
I have already said that I am against the creation of human embryos solely for the purposes of scientific research and destruction. I certainly extend this principle to the creation of any embryo that is in part human—that is, any embryo that contains human DNA. Even if one were to disagree with this objection, I do not think that the mere inconvenience and expense of using human eggs is a sufficient reason to create these kinds of hybrid embryos.
We are talking about a radical shift in the ethical principles that apply to scientific research; we are starting down a road that is radically different from the one we have been on to date. Again, once we allow the creation of human or part-human embryos for the purposes of research, there is no principle that would prevent us from extending the gestation of such embryos. As Mrs Dunne has pointed out, the arbitrary line we have drawn could easily be amended and ultimately would go altogether.
I have heard objections about Frankenstein creations of human-animal hybrids; I have heard others laugh off these objections as a pure fantasy. But if the creation of a human-animal hybrid embryo is acceptable, and the gestation of the embryo for 14 days is acceptable, then what on earth is the principle that will stop us from extending that gestation to 16 days, 21 days, 30 days or whatever?
Once we accept a particular ethical principle, that principle will march inevitably towards its logical conclusion regardless of the ad hoc assurances of the moment. That is the underlying concern I expressed the other day when we were discussing this bill, and it continues to remain my deeply held concern. It is certainly a concern expressed by many people within the Canberra community. For that reason, I will be supporting Mrs Dunne’s amendments. I hope that this will head off one of the other scenarios under this legislation.
DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (11.11): I am not going to support the amendment, because I think that this concern is dealt with in the legislation. I want to take the opportunity to respond to Mrs Dunne’s recollection that I said something the other day which indicated or implied support for it because it might reduce the need to experiment on animals. After checking back, I want to say that what I actually said was in regard to the use of stem cell research which has a great potential to reduce the need to experiment on animals and to use embryonic research as well.
As for hybrids, I want to leave them in mythology and art; I think they have a very important place in those disciplines. At the same time, I am aware that there is a certain fascination in human literature and human art about these kinds of creations. I hope that they do not make their way into science; I believe that we should make every effort to ensure that they do not. I foreshadow that I will be moving an amendment for a sunset clause. I believe that will allow us to continue to examine these concerns.
I think that this debate today is an indication that the more we know the less we know. The science is developing in leaps and bounds, and we always need to be on top of