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Germany

What They’re Saying

German politicians are divided on the issue of importing embryonic stem cells for research purposes. In a parliamentary vote today, party representatives voiced strong opinions.

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German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder is in favor of importing stem cells

The vote in German parliament’s lower house is a question of conscious and therefore removed from strict party line voting. Members of all the major parties from the ruling Social Democrats (SPD) to the opposition Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Liberals (FDP) came out strong both for and against importing stem cells.

The debate lasted most of the day and was characterized by a serious tone and respect for contrary opions. Across the political spectrum party representatives cited ethical and scientific concerns, morality and progress. Here’s what some of them are saying:

Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD): "All of us together should avoid attaching labels such as greed and self-advantage to biologists and medical researchers simply because they are in favor of conducting research on embryonic stem cells".

Angela Merkel, CDU party leader: "You cannot separate good science from ethics".

Wolfgang Gerhardt, FDP parliamentary faction leader: "I cannot comprehend, why clumps of cells which are destined to remain in freezers in Germany cannot be used to gain necessary information on how to help people, even when the donor is in favor of doing so".

Monika Knoche, (Greens): "The question is whether or not the embryo belongs to the species human. If this is the case, than it cannot be used for experiments."

Margot von Renesse, chair of the Enquete commission "Rights and Ethics of Modern Medicine" from the SPD: "All of us want to ensure that human life will not be objectified."

Maria Bähmer (CDU): "The human is not something you do experiments on and not a ware house for replacement parts."

Ulrike Flach (FDP): "If science (in Germany) cannot be made accountable, than it is also not accountable overseas. But, if science can be held accountable, than we must support it. We believe it is accountable."

Wolfgang Wodarg (SPD): "We were all once an embryo".

Petra Bläss (PDS): "No one of us can say if the decision we make today is the right one in a year from now."

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