Spain greenlights therapeutic cloning

Collision with Catholic Church imminent

Spain's government is heading for a head-on collision with the country's Catholic Church after announcing it will go ahead with therapeutic cloning, Reuters reports.

Health minister Elena Salgado told the El Mundo daily that the legislation could be in force as early as next year, noting: "The Church has always been opposed to the advances of science, but fortunately science has continued progressing. And thanks to that we live in better conditions."

In common with other countries which have decided - despite a non-binding UN ban on all forms of cloning - to proceed with therapeutic cloning, Spain will exert strict control over the process and will not allow reproductive cloning, Salgado confirmed.

Spain was one of 34 countries, including the UK, Brazil and China, which voted against the UN ban. Britain's health secretary, John Reid, dismissed the outcome and had already declared before the vote that "the UK remains 'open for business' in stem cell research".

The Spanish announcement will do little to improve relations between politicians and church. The latter recently expressed its strong disapproval at the legalisation of gay marriage in the country but Reuters nicely notes that "although most Spaniards are Catholic in name, practice of the faith is lax and liberal attitudes prevail in society". ®

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