In September this year, Sydney IVF became the first Australian fertility clinic to be issued with a licence to produce human cloned embryos exclusively for research purposes. This was the culmination of political developments which saw Australia move from a ban on therapeutic cloning in 2002 (under the Prohibition of Human Cloning Act 2002 and Research Involving Human Embryos Act 2002) to restricted permission to produce embryos for stem cell research. Conscience votes, in the House of Representatives in December 2006 and in the NSW Legislative Council in June 2007, were crucial.
The ability to engage in (appropriately restricted) therapeutic cloning science has been greeted with enthusiasm by stem cell scientists and patient advocacy groups, and allows for Australia to enter the race to be the first country in the world to successfully extract stem cells from a human embryo produced through cloning. These developments are not, however, welcomed by all.