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Wednesday, 13 November 2002
Page: 6187


Senator PATTERSON (Minister for Health and Ageing) (10:54 AM) — Now I wish I had not only completed law but a PhD in medical ethics to boot! From my bush lawyer, bush medical ethics point of view, I can see the argument that if an embryo were to be created illegally through cloning, you would have a potential human life—that is what you are arguing—and that a person may wish to rescue that embryo by having it implanted. I believe that is the import of what you are saying. My concern is, and another argument could be, that by supporting your amendment there will be an unintended consequence—and this is most probably as extreme as the concept you are putting—of an incentive in the future for someone who is unable to have a child and is prepared to wear the penalty to knowingly be involved in, or encourage the production of, cloning an embryo because they are able to have it implanted. I hope you can get the drift of what I am trying to say.

There we are in the horns of a moral dilemma by taking that clause out. That is only my bush lawyer interpretation; I have not talked to the advisers in the box. But that is my interpretation of what could happen, particularly if someone is driven to have their own genetic material implanted. Who of us would have thought that some of these things were possible? But an adult cell could be taken from a person and cloned. They could be keener to have their own genetic material implanted and give birth to that, and be prepared to wear the consequences, than they could be to be a host to someone else's genetic material. So there could be an unintended consequence of opening that up, with people prepared to wear the consequences of the penalty to have their own genetic material. If that embryo cannot be implanted, that takes away that remote but possible incentive.