A recent medical revelation could lead to babies of the relatively near future having three biological parents. How, you might ask? The controversial technique is called IVF, which uses DNA from two women and one man to create a single embryo. The three parents would be chosen in order to prevent hereditary incurable and often fatal genetic illnesses or diseases. The process would allow the baby to inherit 98 percent of the DNA from their ‘real’ or legal parents, and the rest from a healthy female donor.
This biotechnology works when chromosomes are taken from one zygote, the single cell formed when sperm and egg fuse, and inserted into a separate zygote stripped of its original chromosomes, but let with its mitochondria, which provides each cell with energy to function. In turn, two real parents attribute physical and developmental traits to the child, and the mitochondrial DNA is derived from the third.
Yup, biotechnology. Another way to put it: genetic engineering. This is where a large chunk of the ethical and biological controversy lies. Such a feat would not occur within the natural world we live in without the help of scientific procedures and the aid of tools and instruments, therefore are many people who consider the practice to be immoral.
This technology could allow parents whose children would otherwise suffer from genetic diseases to live functionally and healthily. It has been done in mice and monkeys, but not yet people.
One of the techniques involves destroying a perfectly healthy embryo of one couple to replace it with the DNA of another couple. This is very experimental, and we are not sure if the procedure would be safe, seeing as it is nothing we as a human culture have succeeded in doing thus far.
Britain may be the first to apply these methods, as they wait for a governmental review and revision to allow more fertility and supposedly more human-genetic engineering. Such an intriguing prospective provides hope for the future as well as risk, because such a procedure would literally involve toying with the fundamental cells of human life. In procedures such as IVF and cloning, mitochondrial techniques involved could lead to developmental abnormalities or birth defects.
It is important that the public’s views be heard before enforcing any rights to this procedure, so any steps forward with it will be delayed until is passed or rejected. Do some research of your own, and establish a viewpoint and let your own opinions be heard.
This procedure has the potential to prevent disease, but raises ethical, and likely financial, issues of its own as well. It is very intrusive and manipulative; it would constitute genetically engineered human conception, a subsequently touchy subject at all.