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SYDNEY, October 29, 2001 (LSN.ca) – As the Government of New South Wales introduced a bill on human reproductive cloning, Australian religious leaders have come together to forge a document on cloning and embryo research. The open letter to Australia's federal, state and territory governments, includes the signatures of Catholic, Anglican, Baptist, and Jewish leaders.

“We ask our political leaders to have regard for the sacredness of all human beings, of whatever level of maturity, dependency or ability. We ask them to support adult stem cell research and to reject a policy of destroying some to treat others,” says the letter. Instead, the letter asks the government to “fund and encourage ethical stem cell research on placental and adult tissue.” Governments are asked “to ensure that there are effective nation-wide prohibitions on unethical alternatives such as the production and destruction of human embryos for experimental purposes, and the creation of a market for unethically procured embryonic stem cells.”

An important section of the letter condemns cloning while pointing out its pitfalls. “We advise our Governments that producing human embryos by a cloning process or any other method of non-sexual reproduction is a grave offence to human dignity. It produces a laboratory embryo with no parents or guardians, in fact no one concerned to protect his or her interests,” it says. ” …to produce an embryo is always `reproductive'; to destroy an embryo is never `therapeutic' … So-called `therapeutic cloning' involves the manufacture of a new race of laboratory humans with the intention, right from the beginning, to exploit and destroy them as if they were laboratory animals.”

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