Wednesday, 6 December 2006
Prohibition of Human Cloning for Reproduction and the Regulation of Human Embryo Research Amendment Bill 2006
Consideration in Detail
I would like to thank the member for Bass for this thoughtful amendment to the legislation in the final week of the parliamentary year. Many others are preoccupied with more frivolous activities perhaps, and everyone wants to get home, but I do think we have a responsibility to try to improve legislation. Even if we think that the intention of it is terrific and we support most of it, improvements should be made without fear that something else may happen to the bill in another place. I was quite moved by the words of the member for Gwydir, and there is much wisdom in those words.
In seeking to support this amendment, let us look at what it actually does. The amendment seeks to remove a provision in the bill that, if left to stand, will be a decisive step into darkness and into the sort of scientific depravity I talked of in my speech the other day. Let us not mince words; let us not try to obfuscate and use value-neutral words and talk about tissue. There is a huge difference between tissue and eggs. There may well be a longstanding practice in scientific circles in this country to use foetal tissue from aborted foetuses, but this is not tissue we are talking about; we are talking about eggs. If we were talking just about tissue, then aborted male foetuses could also be used. But we are talking about using the eggs from aborted foetuses, and this really does disturb me more than any other piece of legislation that has come to this House in my five short years here.
But why is the provision in the bill? Is it thought that aborted baby girls are already a source of eggs for cloning? Are they intended to make up for some sort of shortfall in adult women who can be persuaded to undergo the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation to donate eggs for cloning? Whatever the reason a woman is in a position that she needs to abort her baby, how dare we propose that a doctor be authorised to approach her and suggest that the aborted baby effectively be made a mother of a human embryo that will also be destroyed? This is sick science and this is bad law, and I urge every member of this House to support the amendment.
I cannot believe that every single person who supports the thrust of the bill feels comfortable with this particular provision. I hope they are prepared to stand on the record and be counted to prevent this quite bizarre but very real scenario from occurring if this amendment fails. I am a bit of a pessimist. I think that, even if this amendment gets up and is incorporated as part of the bill, the cloning bill will still pass. But it will be slightly improved and probably the most offensive part of it will have been excised. I cannot add to any of the words from the previous speakers in support of this amendment, but I wish to remind members of the House: let us not try to pretend these are some invisible bits of tissue from some unwanted and rejected foetus. We are talking about harvesting the eggs from foetuses, and we should stop and think about that for a minute. I urge all members of this House to think about that and to support this amendment.