April 14, 2024


Australia may be moving towards a US model of embryo research regulation: a chequerboard of conflicting state and national laws. At last weekend’s council of Australian governments, the Federal Government stoutly resisted pressure to lift a ban on therapeutic cloning, along with the largest state, New South Wales. However, the premiers of Victoria and Queensland have become fervent believers in therapeutic cloning as a magic bullet for voters’ health, scientists’ jobs and government finances. They will probably pass legislation enabling it — even though their scientists will have to do without Federal funding. The Howard government in Canberra has no stomach for another exhausting national debate on embryos and reproductive technology, despite the views of an expert review committee which last year unanimously recommended both therapeutic cloning and hybrid embryos.

In the week before the meeting, two of Australia’s most distinguished scientists gave strong backing to therapeutic cloning. Immunologist , a 2005 Nobel laureate, declared that moral reservations would evaporate immediately cures became available.