By Anthony Barich
With the “Cloning” Bill defeated in the State Legislative Council, Labor MP Kate Doust has called on the West Australian and Federal governments to start backing legitimate, ethical technology involving adult stem cells.
On May 6 WA’s Legislative Council rejected the Human Reproductive
Technology Amendment Bill, which would have allowed for the creation of
embryos for the purpose of research and for their destruction after 14
days, by 18 votes to 15.
It was the first time an Australian State Parliament had rejected a
cloning Bill since the Federal Parliament lifted the ban on
“therapeutic” cloning in 2006.
Ms Doust, along with Liberal MP Barbara Scott and other pro-life MPs,
worked behind the scenes educating their Upper House colleagues on
Professor Shinya Yamanaka’s pioneering work at Kyoto University that
rendered embryonic research that WA’s “Cloning Bill” allowed for
Ms Doust told The Record that it was fortunate that the Yamanaka
announcement came last November, just when MPs were giving their
speeches on the issue in parliament.
Christian Democratic Party state president Gerard Goiran said that the
MPs who voted in favour of the “clone and kill” Bill were “certainly
aware of the Yamanaka discovery as the pro-life movement gave to each
of them a full scientific briefing of what pluripotent stem cells can
Just after his announcement, Yamanaka, who had successfully turned
adult skin cells into the equivalent of human embryonic stem cells
without using an actual embryo, told the New York Times: “When I saw
the embryo, I suddenly realised there was such a small difference
between it and my daughters.
“I thought, we can’t keep destroying embryos for our research.
“There must be another way.”
Ms Doust said the defeat of the “Cloning” Bill now provides an
opportunity for the State and Federal Governments to fund adult stem
cell research, given “it seems to be the method that’s actually
delivering positive results in medicine”.
She told The Record that many MPs “were yet to be convinced that we had
to go down the path of cloning embryos, given that we voted against it
in 2003-04”, when they allowed the use of excess IVF embryos but not
for therapeutic cloning purposes.
She slammed suggestions that Catholic MPs voted against the Bill just because they are Catholic.
“Those MPs who decided to vote against this legislation did not make
the decision flippantly,” said Ms Doust, a Catholic parishioner of St
“They simply took on board the information that was given them and made
an informed decision. For pro-life MPs, it goes against everything we
believe in to create a human embryo for destruction.”
Ms Doust refuted Catholic WA Attorney General Jim McGinty’s claims that
the Legislative Council has denied sick people potential cures, and
scoffed at suggestions that scores of stem cell scientists would leave
She pointed out that Professor Alan Trounson, one of the strongest
advocates of embryonic research when it was debated on a federal level,
has since said that Prof. Yamanaka’s research has made embryonic
research obsolete and unnecessary, as has Dolly the Sheep creator,
Prof. Ian Wilmut.
Ms Doust said that once Federal parliament lifted the ban on
therapeutic cloning, “people were telling me it’s a foregone
conclusion” that every State will pass their own legislation allowing
“But I take the view that you have to do everything you can to defeat these types of Bills,” she said.