So why the objections?
Detractors suggest that there are ‘unknowns’ surrounding the procedure which may affect individuals who are not yet born (i.e. the generation these mitochondrial interventions produce) and whom cannot therefore give consent. There are some concerns, for example, that it may render such offspring sterile. There may be other side effects which, they argue, cannot be known at this stage. The Church of England, although not opposed to the process in principle, advocates more research to address such ethical concerns. Lord Deben echoed these sentiments, suggesting that peers should form a committee to examine the legality and safety of the procedure. He said in a statement to the Lords ‘We have to protect three sets of people, the families, the children and the wider society. ‘He also argued that the majority of the public did not agree with it and that they shared his concerns regarding the safety of children born in these circumstances. In lieu of supporting statistics I am not entirely convinced of this. Other high profile people who have come out against the bill are the Attorney General and Lord Chancellor, both of whom have expressed concerns regarding the speed at which the law was rushed through. Advocates of the bill however, such as Lord Howe, believe such opposition is unwarranted. He maintains that such advances would give ‘hope to families’ and that to deny this opportunity any longer than necessary would ‘be cruel and perverse.’ This is a belief supported by the Lord Winston, one of Britain’s leading fertility experts who commented,
‘I don’t believe that his technology threatens the fabric of our society in the slightest bit. On the contrary in a way it protects it. What we’re doing is recognising our limits by accepting regulation.’