MELBOURNE, April 4, 2002 ( – Australian Prime Minister wrote to the country’s premiers today proposing that the commonwealth and states allow human embryos left over from IVF treatments to be used for stem cell research. “It is our proposal and our intention to legislate both the ban on human cloning and also the conditions attaching (to) and governing the use of embryos for research purposes, that we should legislate that nationally,” he said. “We will ask the states and the territories to mirror that legislation at a state and territory level so that we have a comprehensive national legislative framework governing aspects of this.”

Legislators, including ministers, will be given a free vote on the matter and any related amendments or private member submissions. Interestingly Howard said that although he is pro-life on abortion, he could not reconcile being in favour of artificial procreation via IVF and yet against destructive research on human embryos. “The central ethical issue here is that I have been personally unable to find a huge moral distinction between allowing the human embryo to succumb as a result of its exposure to room temperature, and ending it through research,” he said.

See the coverage in The Age at: