Australia’s Senate narrowly voted to end the country’s four-year ban on cloning human embryos for stem cell research, ruling Tuesday that the potential for medical breakthroughs outweighed moral doubts.

The decision — a rare conscience vote in a country where lawmakers are expected to follow the party line — sets the stage for the ban to be lifted entirely. The measure now goes to Australia’s House of Representatives, but lawmakers had expected the Senate to pose the biggest hurdle.

The Senate voted 34 to 32 to allow therapeutic cloning, which involves removing the nucleus of an unfertilized human egg and adding DNA to make it grow in a lab dish.

Scientists hope stem cell research will eventually lead to treatments or cures for diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, as well as spinal cord injuries, diabetes and arthritis.

In Australia, Liberal Sen. Alan Ferguson spoke about his daughter’s multiple sclerosis diagnosis 13 years ago, and said therapeutic cloning would give hope to people like her.He also decleared that he would never forgive himself if he voted against this bill and did not give medical research that extra possible opportunity to succeed in finding a cure for some of those terrible diseases which are now incurable and which afflict so many of our population.

Link []