Drudge Headline: THREESOME: EMBRYOS FROM DNA OF MAN, TWO WOMEN



DrudgeReport is currently headlined with a shocker: THREESOME: EMBRYOS FROM DNA OF MAN, TWO WOMEN, and links to this story ‘3 Parent Kids’ on the British experiment that produced 80 embryos which were destroyed after 8 days because implanting them would be illegal in the UK.  The purpose of these “threesomes” is to replace a mother’s damaged mitochondrial DNA with a healthy woman’s by putting the nucleus of the couple’s embryo in a denucleated egg with undamaged mitochondrial DNA.  It is essentially the same as how SCNT cloning works, but instead of using a nucleus from an adult person, the person being cloned is only an embryo, and their original embryo “body” with the bad mitochondria is discarded.

I’m not sure if implanting one of these embryos would be legal or illegal under the 20062005 Massachusetts cloning law, I think it would be illegal here because the embryo is not the result of fertilization of an egg by a sperm.  On the other hand, if the swapping of the egg to replace the mitochondrial DNA took place before fertilization, while the egg’s nucleus was still only an unfertilized haploid, and then that egg was fertilized by a sperm, then maybe that would be technically legal.  The law doesn’t define what an “egg” or “sperm” is or where they come from, but it specifies that fertilizing one with the other is the only way to create an embryo for implantation.  Missouri law would still prohibit it, by my lights, because the new egg would no longer be “of a human female”, since it would now be “of” two females and no longer represent someone’s full human being.  Other states here would allow these embryos to be implanted, like New Jersey, and for all we know that could be happenning regularly there right now.

Do I think this should be legal?  Well, it is not postgenderism, it is not transhumanism, it is not genetic engineering intended to enhance ability, and it seems clear enough to me which woman is the genetic mother, since everyone’s mitochondrial DNA seems identical unless it is damaged.  It’s more like an organ transplant, but because these organs are replicated inside cells, it has to be done at the very beginning.  But I’m also not a fan of organ transplants in general, and this has the same problems as organ transplants in general, plus tons more.  I think it is bad public policy and unsustainable and threatens people’s natural conception rights by imposing a higher standard on everyone than our own gametes.  It would be hard to fashion a law that permits this sort of genetic modification but prohibits changes in nuclear DNA.  And as the Drudge headline shows, it would be perceived as having crossed the line into three-parent babies and designer babies.

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