Church of England Warns Over Triple-DNA Babies

MPs will vote on whether to allow three parent babies on Tuesday February 3rd (Blend Images/Alamy)
MPs will vote on whether to allow three parent babies on Tuesday February 3rd (Blend Images/Alamy)

MPs will vote to amend the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 to allow three parent babies next week

Introducing laws to allow three parent babies would be ‘irresponsible’ the Church of England has said ahead of a crucial vote in the House of Commons next week.

Next Tuesday, MPs will vote to amend the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 and legalise mitochondrial DNA transfer.

Until now the Anglican Church has withheld judgement on the issue, asking for more scientific evidence. But today it announced that it could not support the legislation.

The procedure, which was developed by British scientists, allows IVF clinics to replace an egg’s defective mitochondrial DNA with healthy DNA from a female donor, to prevent children suffering debilitating conditions like muscular dystrophy.

It is controversial because it would result in babies having DNA from three people – and effectively, two mothers.

Dame Sally Davies, the government’s Chief Medical Officer, has claimed the process is similar to ‘changing a faulty car battery’ however some scientists say that view is naïve because mitochondrial DNA is responsible for much more than powering cells.

Although MPs will not be formally whipped ahead of Tuesday’s debate because it is a vote of conscience, the Telegraph understands that the government has made it clear to members that they are expected to back the legislation.

However, at least 60 MPs are already opposed to the new legislation and Conservative MP Fiona Bruce is expected put down a motion calling for the vote to be delayed until there is more evidence.

The Church of England has said it is worried that the vote will take place before any peer-reviewed safety checks into the procedure have taken place.

Rev Dr Brendan McCarthy, the Church of England’s national adviser on medical ethics, said: “The Archbishops Council, which monitors this issue, does not feel that there has been sufficient scientific study or informed consultation into the ethics, safety and efficacy of mitochondria transfer.

“Without a clearer picture of the role mitochondria play in the transfer of hereditary characteristics, the Church does not feel it would be responsible to change the law at this time.”

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SOURCE: The Telegraph
Sarah Knapton

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