When is three not a crowd?

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In the second procedure (pronuclear transfer) the outcome is similar but the procedure involves the fertilisation of two eggs (donor and parents). Following cell division the respective chromosomes are then swapped, the egg with the healthy mitochondrial DNA becoming the host for the new genetic information. The Catholic Church finds this particular kind of mitochondrial transfer particular objectionable due to the fact that a fertilised egg is destroyed in the process. It also contends that the procedure introduces a ‘rupture’ between mother and father and ‘dilutes’ parenthood. I’m not terribly sure what such ‘dilution’ refers to. The genetic material exchanged does not alter the genetic identity of the child or its relationship to its mother (the baby is carried the same way following the process). Perhaps the Catholic Church is content to leave matters to the whims and vagaries of some mystical plan, but for my part I’m not willing to put my family and the health of my potential offspring at risk for such beliefs.

What are the legal concerns?

Women who donate mitochondrial DNA will be anonymous and will exercise no rights over any respective child that results from their contributions. To quote a recent article in the Guardian ‘On a genetic level, all of the 20,000 genes in the child’s 23 pairs of chromosomes come from the child’s mother and father. The donor only contributes DNA that sit in the Mitochondria, less than 0.2% of the total. The fear of ‘designer babies’ is an erroneous one as features such as eye colour and other character traits are determined by DNA inside the nucleus of the egg which the procedure does not engage with. Changing DNA is prohibited. To those pro-life groups who argue that this is the beginning of a ‘slippery slope’ chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies has countered ‘we have a strong regulatory system that would regulate first the service and secondly would review every individual case before they could happen.’

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