Archbishop Urges Honesty in Stem Cell Debate

Press Release: 21st July, 2006
Statement of Archbishop Denis Hart, Archbishop of Melbourne

It is my firm conviction that the 2002 Commonwealth legislation should not be changed to permit the cloning of human embryos.  I state this after the recent COAG discussions of the review of the operation of the Act by the Lockhart Committee.

Embryonic stem cell research requires the creation of a human embryo, using cloning techniques, for the sole purposes of experimentation and ultimate destruction. No amount of the use of scientific terminology can change this fact. Such embryonic stem cell research has produced no benefits and no miracle cures. Professor Jack Martin, a researcher of world renown, in his submission to the Lockhart Review said, “Currently there is no evidence to justify even the most limited trials of ES cells in treatment of human subjects”.

I must criticise the debate, which neglected to bring into focus the very real health gains, and practical therapies which had come from research using adult and placental stem cells which did not require the creation and destruction of a human embryo.

Similarly, I urge honesty in the debate which will continue as Australia wrestles with the very real moral issues being presented by scientific research. The key principle, which as a society we cannot lose sight of, is respect for all human life even at its earliest beginnings. Creating human embryos via cloning for the purposes of experimentation and ultimate destruction negates this principle.

I am well aware of the exciting possibilities of stem cell research in the relief of human suffering, and I urge Governments and the scientific community to devote their resources and talents to the development of new therapies based on the use of adult and placental stem cells which do not involve creating embryos destined for destruction.

+ Denis J. Hart
Archbishop of Melbourne

Enquiries: Media Liaison Jim O’Farrell  (03) 9926 5771

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