The
Oz


reports: “In the strongest rebuff to his authority in ten years, John
Howard
was last night battling a backbench revolt on two fronts as Coalition
MPs refused to back the government on migration laws and a ban on stem cell
research.”

This battle comes as
researchers
have had an apparent breakthrough

in achieving nerve regrowth with partially crippled rats. “Washington: Scientists
have used stem cells and a soup of nerve-friendly chemicals to bridge a damaged
spinal cord and regrow the circuitry needed to move a muscle, helping partially
paralysed rats walk again.

In Australia, the federal
government

awarded the Monash-University-based stem cell centre despite ethical objections
from the deep-dyed religious conservatives in cabinet. Those charged with
advising on this award were blackguarded in parliament by senators who showed an
amazing ability to fight dirty despite their apparent religious zeal – pale
shades of the Inquisition!

A new Morgan Poll shows that 82% of Australians, up 12% since November
2001, now approve the extraction of stem cells from human embryos so they can be
used in the treatment of diseases and injuries, such as heart disease,
Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimers.

According to Morgan Poll data, 80% of Australians favour embryonic stem cell research in the knowledge
that scientists can now make embryonic stem cells for medical research by
merging an unfertilised egg with a skin cell, in which case no fertilisation and
no merger of the egg and sperm takes place. This process is known as somatic
cell nuclear transfer or therapeutic cloning, which is currently illegal and the
central issue being so vigorously debated in parliament.

PP
McGuinness
concluded a Quadrant editorial on the
subject thus: “That is, of all the silly procedures now made possible by medical
science, the only one which can truly be said to be alarming in its disrespect
for human life, though not for human beings, is the harvesting of embryonic stem
cells. The only dignified path for a moral objector who might be cured by such a
procedure is to die.”

More reading at
Henry Thornton.

Peter Fray

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