Wednesday, 6 December 2006
Prohibition of Human Cloning for Reproduction and the Regulation of Human Embryo Research Amendment Bill 2006
Consideration in Detail
I rise to support the amendments, which have been well and eloquently moved by the member for Bass. In so doing, I wish to comment on a couple of points that have been raised by the member for Lalor. This is complicated and, at the end of these comments, I will table some advice from the Parliamentary Library that I think casts some light on these matters. But the points I want to make essentially are these.
As things stand, it is impossible at law to use eggs from aborted foetuses for research or other purposes. Yes, it is possible to use material from aborted foetuses for other purposes; but, as things stand, it is not possible to use eggs from aborted foetuses for research or for other purposes. The Prohibition of Human Cloning for Reproduction and the Regulation of Human Embryo Research Amendment Bill 2006, as moved by Senator Patterson in the Senate and as passed by this House at its second reading stage, would permit eggs from aborted foetuses to be used for research purposes and for cloning. That is the first point I want to make.
The second point I want to make is that, yes, a regulatory regime is in place for the use of material from aborted foetuses—and that has been referred to by the member for Lalor. But the bill we have just passed does not make that regulatory regime mandatory. If the member for Lalor were to be consistent, she would seek to move a different amendment perhaps to those which the member for Bass has moved. But, with the way this bill stands, she does not ensure that the regulatory regime that normally would cover the use of material from aborted foetuses applies to eggs taken from aborted foetuses for the purposes of research or cloning. So under this bill, if it is not amended in the way proposed by the member for Bass, there will be a perfect ability for researchers to use eggs from aborted foetuses. There will be no necessary regulatory regime covering this.
I point out to the member for Lalor and others that the bill we have just read a second time does require that there will be licensing restrictions in other respects but specifically not in this respect, and that is why I think the amendments moved by the member for Bass are so important to remove perhaps the most objectionable feature of this bill. Certainly I regard this bill as bad in principle, but I think it is incumbent upon members of this parliament to try to improve legislation. Even if we believe that the legislation is bad in principle, it is incumbent on us to try to make it as unobjectionable as possible. I think that the amendments of the member for Bass do that. To assist the House, I table the Parliamentary Library’s advice.