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U.K. Set to Legalize 3-Parent Baby Procedure

The Short of It

Today, the British House of Commons voted to legalize the process that allows for the creation of a 3-parent baby. While the introduction of a third party's maternal DNA through a donor egg means a child is born without disabling mitochondrial disease, it also opens the door to potential ethical concerns.

The Lowdown

Mitochondrial diseases, which are incurable, are passed down to babies through the mother's DNA. These conditions affect the heart and liver, can cause respiratory problems, blindness and muscular dystrophy. Mitochondrial donation to replace the defective DNA of the biological mom is a way to ensure a healthy, normal life for affected children, but the process involves destroying an embryo, which is why many oppose the legalization of the technology. And others question the implications of a child essentially having three parents.

Still, the measure to move forward with a law allowing mitochondrial manipulation passed handily in the House of Commons and now is set for a final vote in the House of Lords.

Proponents point out that cutting out the faulty DNA means certain conditions will not be passed down to future generations. They also claim this is simply the newest frontier in IVF technology, the original form of which was initially opposed as well. It's worth noting that the DNA responsible for a person's characteristics would come from the biological mother.

The Upshot

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration is reviewing the process of mitochondrial donation as well. NPR reports that 1,000 to 4,000 children are born with mitochondrial disease each year.

Do you think a 3-parent baby is ethical?

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