The Three-Parent Child in a Brave New World

A federal committee held two days of hearings this week on a procedure called mitochondrial transfer which is accomplished by mixing the genes of two women with the goal of increasing the birth of healthy babies. Sounds humane, right? But, in attempting to increase healthy births, this procedure raises the specter of human gene manipulation which could be used to create “designer” babies.

According to Karen Weintraub in a special article for USA Today:

“The mitochondrial transfer procedure would combine the nuclear genes from the mother with the mitochondrial genes of a donor woman. When fertilized, it would lead to babies with genetic material from three ‘parents.’ The procedure promises to help women who carry defective genes that can lead to devastating mitochondrial problems in children, including blindness, organ failure and stroke. It might eventually also help resolve some types of infertility.”

Scientific experts who testified expressed skepticism that the procedure could be done safely. Dr. David Prentice, a cell biologist and fellow for life sciences at the Family Research Council, told the panel that “The individuals created are experiments. You’re actually creating and destroying young human life which we object to. It just seems a very wrongheaded way to proceed.”

No vote was taken by the panel. 

Read the Weintraub article here.

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