Interreligious Statement Against Cloning

Leaders Assail Measure in New South Wales

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SYDNEY, Australia, NOV. 9, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The recent decision of the New South Wales government to introduce its Human Reproductive Cloning and Trans-species Fertilization Bill 2001 prompted this statement from religious, medical and legal figures in Australia.



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No Human Cloning
An Open Letter to Australia´s Federal, State and Territory Governments

Our community must determine appropriate standards for medical research involving human subjects. We ask our political leaders to have regard for the sacredness of all human beings, of whatever level of maturity, dependency or ability. We ask them to support adult stem cell research and to reject a policy of destroying some to treat others.

Since the production of Dolly the sheep by somatic cell nuclear transfer in 1997, sections of the scientific community have campaigned to be allowed to clone human embryos. Such embryos could then be used to obtain embryonic stem cells for destructive experimentation.

Some also want to use `surplus´ human embryos from IVF programs for such purposes. Despite some inflated claims, the fact is that these IVF stem cells would not be directly useful for therapies as they would not be compatible with the recipient´s tissues. But they might be used for drug testing and other experimentation.

We advise our Governments that producing human embryos by a cloning process or any other method of non-sexual reproduction* is a grave offence to human dignity. It produces a laboratory embryo with no parents or guardians, in fact no one concerned to protect his or her interests. It means that all such embryos would be likely to be destroyed, since the advocates of human cloning experiments acknowledge that to allow them to develop would be unsafe.

Much worse than cloning human beings to reproduce children would be the creation or use of human embryos for the purpose of destructive experimentation. The supposed distinction between `therapeutic´ and `reproductive´ cloning must be exposed for the furphy it is: to produce an embryo is always `reproductive´; to destroy an embryo is never `therapeutic´. The European Parliament has declared the distinction to be a sleight of hand and the Australian Health Ethics Committee described it as lacking transparency and concealing the truth.

So-called ´therapeutic cloning´ involves the manufacture of a new race of laboratory humans with the intention, right from the beginning, to exploit and destroy them as if they were laboratory animals. This would be the worst of all possible uses of the cloning technology.

Cloning humans would also occasion a whole range of new ethical and social dilemmas, because the process radically dissociates procreation from the loving union of a man and a woman, and opens up new possibilities for designing our progeny, controlling their genetic destiny, or exploiting them for the advantage of others.

We urge our political leaders to support the alternative, safer and longer established medical technology of using a patient´s own tissues as a source of stem cells for developing therapies, especially as they have much greater direct therapeutic potential in terms of tissue compatibility. We ask them to fund and encourage ethical stem cell research on placental and adult tissue. We urge them to ensure that there are effective nation-wide prohibitions on unethical alternatives such as the production and destruction of human embryos for experimental purposes, and the creation of a market for unethically procured embryonic stem cells.

Note: Sexual reproduction involves the combining of two gametes i.e. male and female gametes as can occur from sexual intercourse or in IVF.

Signatories (as at October 19, 2001):

--Most Reverend Dr Peter Jensen, Anglican Archbishop of Sydney
--The Most Rev Ian George, Anglican Archbishop of Adelaide
--The Rt. Rev. Robert Forsyth Bishop of South Sydney, Anglican Church of
Australia
--Most Rev George Pell, Catholic Archbishop of Sydney
--Most Rev Denis Hart, Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne
--Most Rev Kevin Manning, Catholic Bishop of Parramatta
--Most Rev Ted Collins MSC, DD, AM, Catholic Bishop of Darwin
--Rabbi Raymond Apple, A.M., R.F.D., Senior Rabbi of the Great Synagogue
Sydney
--Rabbi Moshe D Gutnick, Judge, Sydney Bethdin (Jewish Ecclesiastical
Court), Immediate Past President, Rabbinical Council of New South Wales
--Rabbi Pinchos Woolstone, The Jewish House Crisis Centre, Sydney
--Paul Madden, Executive Director, Baptist Community Services (SA) Inc
--John Field General Superintendent of the South Australian Baptist Union Inc
--Rev. Mike Semmler. President, Lutheran Church of Australia
--Dr Douglas Milne, Principal-elect, Presbyterian Theological College,
Melbourne
--Rev Dr John Davies, Principal, Presbyterian Theological Centre (Sydney)
--Rev Dr Peter Barnes, Revesby Presbyterian Church
--Mr Robert Leane, State Minister of Churches of Christ, SA & NT, Inc
--Major General W.B. "Digger" James and Barbara James
--Associate Professor George L. Mendz, School of Biochemistry and
Molecular Genetics, The University of New South Wales, Sydney
--Dr Kevin Hume, President, Australian Branch of the World Federation of
--Doctors Who Respect Human Life
--Dr Catherine Lennon FRACGP, NSW President of Doctors for Life
--Dr David Gawler, vascular surgeon, Melbourne
--Dr Veronica O´Connell FRACGP
--Dr Samantha McLoughlin, MB.BS (Syd) MPH (Syd).
--Dr Roberta Augimeri, MB BS Honours (Syd) Dip Obs, Family GP
--Dr Simon McCaffery, Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Liverpool Hospital,
Sydney
--Alison Hope, President of the ACT Right to Life & Spokesperson for the
--Australian Federation of Right to Life Associations
--Greg Smith, President, NSW Right to Life
--William Dawe QC, Barrister, Sydney
--Lou Lamprati, Barrister, Sydney
--Brian Roach, Barrister, Sydney
--Janet Coombs, Barrister, Sydney
--Dr John I Fleming, Director, Southern Cross Bioethics Institute.
--Dr Gregory K Pike, Deputy Director, Southern Cross Bioethics Institute.
--Dr Nicholas Tonti-Filipini, Bioethics.
--Dr Peter McCullagh.
--Dr Anthony Fisher, Episcopal Vicar for Health Care, Catholic
Archdiocese of Melbourne
--Dr Joseph Santamaria
--Dr N M Mitchell and Jill Mitchell
--Dr Joanne Shaw, Brisbane
--Dr H R Downey, Brisbane
--Sir James Killen, retired Federal MHR, Queensland
--Dr A Hartwig, Brisbane
--Dr C Elliott, Brisbane
--Dr F Schubert, Brisbane
--Dr T B Lynch, Anzac House, Rockhampton
--Mary Scholtens, Patron Australian Family Association
--Peter Breen, MLC (NSW)
--The Honourable Elaine Nile MLC
--The Reverend the Honourable Fred Nile
--Dr Peter Wong, MLC (NSW)
--Babette Francis, National & Overseas Co-ordinator, Endeavour Forum Inc
--Charles Francis QC, Owen Dixon Chambers, Melbourne
--Prue Oldham, Melbourne
--D. & E.J. Quinn, Brisbane
--Margaret Butts, Melbourne