Friday, January 27, 2017

It's illegal to create a part-pig/part-human embryo in Australia

From the US comes news that a part-pig, part-human embryo has been created, apparently in the name of  medical research.

Back in 2002, our various Governments got together and decided that it would be an offence to do this type of research here. It was considered to be beyond the pale. The Federal Parliament under the Howard Government then passed the Prohibition of Human Cloning by Reproduction Act 2002, which sets out a whole series of offences to do with embryos, including the creation of a chimeric embryo such as this. This offence attracts a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment. OUCH!

As part of a national scheme, all the States and the ACT also passed matching State and ACT legislation. The Federal Act unusually allows them to sit side by side. The usual rule under the Constititution is that Federal law overrides State law to the extent of any inconsistency. Therefore (except in the NT where they rely on just the Federal law), any researcher undertaking this research could find themselves under the double whammy of a prosecution under Federal law of up to 15 years, and up to 15 years under State law, such as the Human Cloning for Reproduction and Other Prohibited Practices Act 2003  (NSW).

And just there is no confusion about it- if the embryo is deemed to be a hybrid embryo, not a chimeric one, then THAT is an offence attracting up to 15 years jail under both laws.

It's the same legislation that makes it an offence to pay an egg, sperm or embryo donor anything other than their reasonable expenses, punishable by up to 15 years jail.

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