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RESEARCH INVOLVING EMBRYOS BILL 2002: Consideration in Detail

Mr CADMAN (Mitchell) (6.08 p.m.) —We are continuing the debate in the consideration in detail stage on the Research Involving Embryos Bill 2002. When the House last dealt with this issue, I had moved amendments to clause 25, page 9.

My amendments seek to ensure that only research relating to stem cells should be carried out on embryos, because the legislation deals with that particular issue. Clause 25 currently reads `the use by the person is authorised by a licence'. To those words I am seeking to add the words `the use is for the extraction of embryonic stem cells and is authorised by a licence', so that it is very clear what the bill seeks to do in this critical part.

I want to focus on research on stem cells because that is contained in the title of the bill and it is supposed to be about research on stem cells. The embryonic stem cell was the subject of the COAG agreement between the premiers and the Prime Minister. Research on stem cells was the matter which was excluded from the previous vote that the House took. The House was considering a large bill which dealt with both research and cloning, and it was the decision of the House to split that legislation into two parts, with one part dealing with cloning and the other part dealing with research. We are now looking at the research part, which relates to research on embryos, and the purpose of this legislation is to detail the way in which research may take place on embryos and the extraction of stem cells.

Amendment (1) is to make sure that the embryos are used only for the extraction of embryonic stem cells. Amendment (2) is to ensure that the embryos are not damaged or destroyed. We are talking about excess embryos; and I do not know how you could call human fertilised eggs—which have all the potential of life and the ingredients of full human beings—`excess' but that is the term in the legislation. Excess embryos which were created before 5 April this year can be researched upon, provided certain conditions are met. The purpose of these amendments is to specify the use of excess artificially created embryos and to ensure that they are not used, by licensed persons, for anything other than the extraction of stem cells. The amendments are narrow and they are meant to be. They deal with only a small part of the legislation. They do not seek to interfere with the process of the IVF use of embryos at all; they relate purely to the use of excess embryos.

In moving these amendments I was encouraged by my experience as a member of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. We took evidence from a wide range of people, including people who have been beneficiaries of a large Commonwealth government grant of $46 million, which will allow them to continue in research. I will bring to the House's attention statements made before that committee and statements made since which lead me to express a great deal of concern about research on embryos unless this House confines the research specifically to the factors that are proposed in the legislation.

Author: Alan Cadman MP
Source: House Hansard - 24/9/02
Release Date: 29 Sep 2002


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