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 talk to the amendment. Basically, the argument boils down to the fact that foetal tissue has, as we know, been used since 1980. It has been under National Health and Medical Research Council control since October 1983. These are very strict controls. We have a very excellent minister who oversees the National Health and Medical Research Council. The council also has an ethics committee. The legislation coming from recommendations made by the Lockhart review, as expressed here, lifts the ban on the use of these primordial ovarian cells that can be used to make eggs. That would still come under the strict regulation of the National Health and Medical Research Council and of course has to have a proper ethical contribution in terms of donations from the parents of this aborted child.
When you talk about later term abortions—over, say, 12 to 14 weeks—there are many sad cases of spontaneous abortions. In other words, they are miscarriages; they are not surgically terminated pregnancies. When you get into this area of pregnancy stage, I hate abortion. I think I am on the record saying that. I am very genuine about that: I want to try to prevent it. I think, Michael, that you are pretty genuine, too. I apologise—it was a late-stage amendment and I was a bit suspicious, but, with good Christmas cheer, I will give you the benefit of the doubt.
However, I want to express this: at the end of the day, a lot of late-stage abortions are done for very good maternal reasons. This element of abortion comes back in. It is yuck—of course it is yuck. No-one likes abortions. But it is sad. Women can get breast cancer and need a termination. Or say there is a foetal abnormality. There has to be a very good reason for this. Sometimes Mother Nature unfortunately intervenes and does it for you.
This amendment denies me—say I have that tragedy and am a parent of this foetus that has been aborted for whatever reason—and takes away my rights. That is what you are doing with this amendment. You can say that I can have all the tissues in this foetus used for any other purpose. The science is not there yet: we cannot yet make eggs suitable for nuclear transfer. But the future may bring this. This is why I would like to see this stay. This is why it is here. Why would you deny me the right? Take all my rellies and close friends. Say I had this tragic loss and I donated all my organs. What is the difference? I would make sure that whoever was left could take an organ from me. Terrific! They will keep me alive, even with brain death, and cut me open. My heart still pumps. It sounds yuck but it is great: I might help someone else. It sounds yuck, but I might help you, Michael—and I would like to do that.
What is the difference between foetal tissue and donating any tissue for retinal research or whatever? We could one day possibly save women the hyperstimulation to produce eggs if you or I or any of us had the right to say that science had moved forward—which it does and can do—and that you can create eggs from this tissue. We are not hurting anyone. The foetus is dead. We may help a lot of people. Why would you take away my right to do that?
That the amendments (Mr Michael Ferguson’s) be agreed to.