Bill is not correct way to deal with stem-cell research question

Stem Cell Research
Last night the Seanad debated the Stem-Cell Research (Protection of Human Embryos) Bill 2008 . Below is my own contribution to the debate.
I would not, and do not support the Bill introduced by Senator Mullen. I do not believe it is the way to deal with this complex problem. A Bill that is, essentially, founded on criminal sanctions or at least includes such sanctions as a crucial component in respect of embryonic stem cell research is not the way to deal with this complex matter. I agree, however, with those who said that this issue must be wrestled with and dealt with by the Legislature.

I compliment the Minister of State, Jimmy Devins TD on the comprehensive treatment he gave to the topic. However, ringing in his ears and in the ears of all of us are the demands and very strong suggestions from a number of bodies for regulation to be introduced, and for legislation in this crucial area. As recently as this year, the Irish Council for Bioethics made such a demand. Regulation is the way in which we should approach this matter.

I am sure Senator Mullen has a continuing interest in this topic. However, it is probably true that this debate was triggered by the decision of UCC some weeks ago. Whatever one might say about the particular call made by the ethics committee in UCC and, ultimately, by the governing body of the university, at least they wrestled with this question and came up with actual decisions. Some people may believe it to be a good thing to be uncertain, as it were, about where they stand. This may not be something to criticise. From an intellectual point of view, I understand and appreciate someone who takes that viewpoint but ultimately it is the case that decisions must be made.

Senator Maria Corrigan referred to President Bush. I remind the House that President Bush vetoed a Bill passed in the Senate in respect of the promotion and funding of stem cell research. President-elect Obama proposes to reverse that veto. These are decisions made in a much more complex and wealthier country which, no matter what way one looks at it, is likely to be at the forefront of these issues more quickly than we ever will be. Americans have faced up to the fact that they must make decisions.

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