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Human embryo cloning should be banned for good - 13 February 2004

The announcement today that South Korean scientists have created the first human embryo clones is a reminder that Australia only has a temporary ban on human cloning. Spokesperson for the Australian Federation of Right to Life Associations, Mary Joseph, called on the Prime Minister to ensure a total and permanent ban on cloning.

The internationally respected journal Science today published proof that for the first time human embryo clones have been created. The South Korean scientific team cloned human embryos so that they could be destroyed for research on their stem cells.

"The Prohibition of Human Cloning Act 2002 only places a temporary ban on cloning. The legislation contains a provision for a review of the Act after two years which allows the cloning ban to be dropped," Ms Joseph said.

"The creation of the first human embryo clones is a frightening development, which unless checked, will lead eventually to the birth of human clones.

"There is no practical difference in the procedure of cloning for reproduction or cloning for research. Once a cloned human embryo has been created, it is either implanted in a woman to develop and be born, or it is destroyed for research.

"If we are serious about banning cloning, we should permanently ban cloning for reproduction and cloning for research. There is no doubt that if cloning for research were allowed down the track, some scientists would be tempted to use one of their research embryos to bring a cloned human being to birth.

"Human embryos are more than a chance collection of cells which can be used without consequence. The deeper ethical issues of what it is to be human, and how we should respect that humanity, have been ignored.

"Every human being deserves our respect, whether embryonic, foetal, child or adult and no human being should be sacrificed for the good of another."

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