Cloning and Stem Cell Research
The use of stem cells for the treatment and cure of human disease has become a controversial issue over the past few years.
At the outset, it is important to distinguish between the use of ADULT STEM CELLS and EMBRYONIC stem cells.
Adult stem cells, taken from the tissue of an adult - such as knee, blood, mucus, skin or the placenta and umbilical cord blood following the birth of a baby - are quite ethical and already offer promising results.
However, embryonic stem cells are taken from a live embryo when it is about 5 days old. In removing the stem cells, the embryo is killed. Since life begins at conception, this process kills a living baby and is thus unethical for Christians.
The embryos are sometimes obtained from IVF processes, perhaps from embryos unwanted by a couple who have undergone IVF to have a baby.
In 2006, the issue again came before the Australian parliament - this time the proposal was to allow the CREATION of embryos - by a variety of methods - specifically for the purpose of destroying them to obtain stem cells.
Success of adult stem cells
There are more than 70 treatments and cures using ADULT stem cells - there are NONE using embryonic stem cells.
New research: 2008 - 2009
This research was confirmed by scientists at UCLA in early 2009 - they took human skin cells and turned them into stem cells which act like embryonic stem cells.
Australian Commonwealth legislation...
During 2002, the Australian federal government considered legislation relating to stem cell research involving the use of embryos, and also human cloning.
Both Houses voted to ban human cloning (reproductive, ie resulting in the birth of a child) but allow the use of embryos for stem cell research.
2002: Embryo Stem Cell research:
Senate: The Senate sent the bill to an Inquiry. The Senate received the report from the Inquiry on 24 October 2002.
By November 2004, several licences had already been granted for research using embryos.
2005: Review of Legislation
Click here for the Lockhart Committee website.
Click here for the Australian government's 'Bioethics' portal.
2006: Further Legislation