According to news reports tonight, the House of Representatives has voted in favour of legislation to overturn the ban on therapeutic cloning in Australia. The legislation has already passed the Senate and will now be enacted as law.
While this legislation goes nowhere near far enough - and has actually gone backwards in certain respects - overall, it will produce some liberalisation of Australia's harsh and unnecessary cloning laws. This is a major step forward in the struggle against various kinds of irrationalists and anti-liberals who want to ban practices that do no harm ... but may aid medical scientists in conducting research that will lead to treatments for disease.
One disturbing aspect of the debate was that Australia's new Leader of the Opposition, Kevin Rudd, joined with the socially conservative Prime Minister, John Howard, in opposing the reform. Howard's stance was predictable, but Rudd's less so - and it is sad to see the leaders of both major parties in Australian politics hitching a ride on the shaky-wheeled wagon of irrationalism. Quickly, someone find us a political leader with an ounce of sense when it comes to issues of biomedical policy. Fortunately, the majority of members of the house disagreed with their leaders, and this issue was the subject of a conscience vote with no party discipline applied. So there it is.
When all is said and done, it's a day for rejoicing after the bitterness we've watched over the past few weeks, as the irrationalists have fought tooth and nail against reform. I can still scarcely believe that this process has led to a result in which reason has (more or less) prevailed. I wasn't going to believe it could happen until the final numbers were in.
But it's finally over. Crack open the Champagne.