THE forthcoming vote on the legislation to govern any use of ‘excess embryos’ for destructive experimentation is a crucial one.
Unfortunately, the campaign conducted in the media by the supporters of this proposal has obscured the moral issue of using human beings as experimental matter.
Although the embryos in question may, through legal decree, be doomed to die, when they are to be used for their cells, they will be allowed to develop further until there are enough cells to take. It will be the acquisition of these cells that is the direct cause of death, not thawing. Thus it is disappointing, and incorrect for Mr Howard and others to see no difference between the two avenues of action. It is a compounding of errors – the creation and freezing of embryos in the first place, followed by an exploitation of them as a source of cells.
It is not well understood that these cells are desired for much more pecuniary purposes than finding cures for diseases, however unlikely that may be.
The legislation actually makes no mention of embryonic stem cells. It would allow use of embryos for drug testing (in fact, that is already happening with stem cells acquired from overseas), improvement of IVF techniques, and just study in general. All that is required is that the information required cannot be achieved in any other way.
It is disappointing that parliamentarians such as Mr Swan and Mr Rudd do not appreciate that they are approving of a policy to use human embryos as experimental humans.
The outcome of such research is totally unsure, but the decision to do so is crystal clear. If the chance to seek cures for disease is the only justification for this bill, what will be the response when these scientists claim they need to create embryos to further their work? Mr Rudd may believe he can reverse this policy if needs be, but that is not the experience with the other issues in our society involving early human life – abortion and IVF.
It makes no sense to claim ‘very early embryonic stem cells do not constitute a human life’. Those cells are to be taken from a frozen embryo that, in different circumstances, could have been an IVF baby. Wasn’t the embryo human or alive when it was first ‘made’? Did the parents believe that it wasn’t yet human or alive when the embryo was replaced into the woman’s body?
Such a claim is only a personal, uninformed opinion, and is not consistent with the facts of human biology. It also clearly plays into the hands of those to whom it is convenient not to consider them human.
I would like to urge readers, especially in electorates covered by those parliamentarians who have indicated they will vote for the bill, to make their opposition known. It is also essential to start contacting Queensland’s senators.
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