Aussie Minister unconvinced on stem cells

August 20, 2006

Australian Health Minister Tony Abbott says there is no evidence that stem-cell research will lead to a breakthrough in the treatment of diseases.

Abbott told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. that despite a recent favorable report on therapeutic cloning of stem cells, he did not think current regulations on stem-cell research should be changed.

Prime Minister John Howard said earlier this week he would allow a free vote on the issue if it came before Parliament, and a Liberal senator announced she was developing a bill to overturn the ban on therapeutic cloning.

Abbott called talk of a stem-cell research breakthrough "a lot of peddling of hope," but said there is no evidence that "radical research techniques are actually going to produce the breakthroughs that some of the more evangelical scientists are claiming."

He said therapeutic cloning was the "slippery slope" toward human cloning.

The opposition Labor Party's health spokeswoman, Julia Gillard, called Abbott's remarks "inappropriate" and said he should "focus on the facts."

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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