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Parliament should reject the embryo stem cell bill

Members of the House of Representatives should reject the Research Involving Embryos and Prohibition of Human Cloning Bill 2002 said spokesperson for the Australian Federation of Right to Life Associations, Mary Joseph. The Bill, which would allow the destruction of human embryos for their stem cells, will be debated in the House of Representatives this week.

"Members of the House of Representatives should reject the Bill because it would allow human beings to be destroyed. It is not ethical to destroy another human being for their parts, which would be used for a variety of commercial applications such as drug testing", Ms Joseph said.

"The argument has been put that these embryos will die anyway, so why not use them as a source of tissue. But of course all human beings will die at one stage or another - that does not mean that human beings have no special status and that they can be exploited as a commodity.

"It would of course be preferable that there were no 'spare' embryos in storage . But it is often the same people who created the numbers of 'surplus' embryos in storage who are also advocating that they be allowed to further their research or commercial interests by using them.

"Advocates of embryo stem cell research continue to exploit the experience of unfortunate people with a range of medical conditions. These peoples' illnesses are wielded as a lobbying tool by groups whose research or commercial interests are being threatened.

"Illness is not a justification to pursue any method, not matter how unethical, to find a cure for a medical condition.

"The saddest part of this is that those people being paraded before us may never see a cure in their lifetime, even if embryo stem cell research is given the go-ahead. We shouldn't be asked to choose between our sympathy and genuine compassion for people with illnesses and our concern that human embryos should not be destroyed for research."

Issued:    20 August 2002

Contact:    Mary Joseph, spokesperson for the Australian Federation of Right to Life Associations, telephone 02 6253 3100