Embryonic Stem Cells and Cloning - Summary

The main points of this submission are summarised as follows:

  • I address the Review’s terms of reference with respect to community standards, particularly the ethics of human cloning but also research involving human embryos.
  • I propose three principles that should be used in formulating policy on cloning and embryo research, that the same weight should be given to the interests of others as one gives to one’s own interests, that genetic discrimination is unacceptable, and that scientifically, embryos are collections of cells, and not persons.
  • I rebut all but the safety arguments against human cloning, and highlight policy inconsistencies that arise from the application of the Prohibition of Human Cloning Act 2002 (PHC Act) and the Research Involving Human Embryos Act 2002 (RIHE Act) in their current form.
  • Two scenarios show the flaws in the current Acts. If a woman pregnant with a cloned embryo were to immigrate to Australia, the PHC Act suggests the child would be unethical. According to the arguments against cloning, the child would have been created by a process contrary to human dignity, be confused about his or her familial relationships, be a means to an end and worried about his or her alter ego. These arguments underlying the PHC Act are invalid. The child should be loved and brought up as any other child. If treatments for diseases are developed overseas from human embryo research, are Australians prepared to forgo these treatments because the two Acts deem the research to be unethical?
  • I contend that if my principles are applied, then there is no objective, non-discriminatory, non-safety reason against human reproductive and non-reproductive cloning, and that it should be permitted, provided it can be demonstrated as a safe technology. Research on all embryos should be permitted, with the usual conditions imposed on research projects. The PHC and RIHE Acts should be amended accordingly.