3 Parent Babies: Ethical or Not?
Mitochondrial replacement therapy or (MRT) is the replacement of mitochondria, an organelle in cells, which can prevent or improve certain diseases. This procedure produces an often referred to “3 parent babies” since it requires the replacement of mitochondrial DNA of an embryo with that of a “third parent” This is a relatively new practice that has gained a good amount of attention due to its ethical issues. The issues involves where the line is drawn from vitro fertilization and gene editing. These social and ethical complexities make MRT an important issue to discuss.
People argue that MRT involves manipulating the embryo which causes the changing of genes within future generations. This demonstrates the aspect of scientists getting the play “God”, but it depends on how “Genetic intervention” is interpreted. MRT should be considered genetic intervention and bans should be reconsidered.
Another challenge is allowing the child to find out his or her ancestry or genetic lineage which is a direct compromise of donor privacy. However, as the price for gene sequencing lowers, the possibility for every child to understand his or her ancestry without revealing the identity of the donor is likely.
Today in the US, MRT is banned. In 2009, researchers at the Oregon National Primate Center preformed MRT in a Rhesus monkey successfully (Vox). This gave people hope that it could be performed on humans. However, in 2016, Congress passed a Consolidated Appropriations Act which banned germline interventions, a term that involves modifications that would be passed down beyond a single generation (Vox).
Obviously, MRT raises both societal and ethical concerns, however, it should be accepted for its ability to prevent diseases. It will be an effective method in which women can have healthy children. Like other disease interventions, governments should invest more money into MRT for patients in need.