Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Stem cell ban lifted

A BAN on therapeutic stem cell research in NSW has been lifted after upper house MPs last night supported the controversial bill by 28 votes to 13.

The NSW legislation mirrors a law passed by Federal Parliament in December and is similar to a bill passed by Victoria's Parliament in May.

The Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, reignited debate about the separation of church and state after he warned Catholic MPs who supported the bill that they "must realise that their voting has consequences for their place in the life of the church".

Despite the warning, a number of high-profile Catholic MPs, including the Premier, Morris Iemma, and his deputy, John Watkins, voted in favour of the bill in the Legislative Assembly.

Mr Iemma said he did not believe Cardinal Pell had overstepped the mark.

The Attorney-General, John Hatzistergos, a Catholic, abstained from voting last night.

Four cabinet members, Kristina Keneally, Graham West, Kevin Greene and Barbara Perry, voted against it in the lower house.

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