James Burfitt writes: The Crikey team certainly threw a lot of things at Tony Abbott yesterday (editorial) for his accusations that the Health Department’s medical experts were pushing evangelical science and the “peddling of hope.” There was a notable exception: science. No scientific rebuff to Abbott. No trump card finding to suggest that the therapeutic cloning on embryonic stem cells is superior to alternatives. I suggest you leave the personal attacks to the politicians and play the ball not the man. As the Crikey Team puts it, therapeutic cloning from the stem cells taken from a human discard is a possible route to tackling disease and saving lives. Not good enough. Try a squiz at a recent article by Dr Neville Cobbe, in the Journal of Medical Ethics, “Why the apparent haste to clone humans?” which argues that there is a rush unsupported by enough conclusive research. And let’s leave the polls out. Polls are seldom efficient in evaluating scientific merit.
Lawrie Robertson writes: You don’t have to be a religious pro-life politician such as Tony Abbott to be sceptical about many of the benefits claimed for therapeutic cloning. It would be hardly surprising if those scientists with their hands out for a therapeutic cloning research grant were not tempted to overstate their case. Equally, it would hardly surprising if those scientists who feared their therapeutic cloning colleagues were about to win research money that might otherwise go to themselves were tempted to point out that the science was hideously expensive and highly speculative. All is not what it seems. Your editorial did little to surface the real issues – it merely added more heat to the debate.