'Three-Person Baby' IVF Is Not Only Possible, It's Safe. But Is It Moral?

What this cutting-edge procedure could mean for you. 

Three-person IVF Chrupka/Shutterstock

Research out of England puts an entirely new spin on the efficacy of having a threesome. Indeed, scientists from Newcastle University looked at 500 eggs from 64 donor women, and found that using an IVF technique incorporating the DNA of three people to create a human life, will result in a healthy pregnancy.

Although critics of a "three-person baby" have said doctors are playing God, the technology is a godsend for women with serious genetic disorders, who fear passing them along to their offspring.

Essentially, a mitochondrial transfer, or early pronuclear transfer, allows a bad string of DNA to be replaced with good, donated DNA shortly after fertilization. As Dr. Bruce Cohen, director of neurology at Akron Children's Hospital explains, according to Jezebel, a baby would inherit DNA from three people: the mom, the dad, and an egg donor (but that portion is actually incredibly small—just about 0.1 percent).

"We're not talking about manipulating genes," Cohen said. "We're talking about a fertility technique that replaces bad mitochondria with good mitochondria."

Of course, nothing is officially being replaced just yet. But if an expert panel appointed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority endorses the findings of the study, which was published in the journal Nature, the next step is that the Newcastle Fertility Centre could apply for a license and begin offering the procedure to women at high risk for passing on mitochondrial diseases.

Professor Mary Herbert, senior author of the study, commented, "Having overcome significant technical and biological challenges, we are optimistic that the technique we have developed will offer affected women the possibility of reducing the risk of transmitting mitochondrial DNA disease to their children."

That sounds great! And in the future, the IVF technique could also offer hope for same-sex couples who want to have a baby. That sounds great, too! However, it struck me that in a press release, researchers behind this new study said creating what is technically a three-parent baby produces "no harmful effect." That may be true in terms of the genetic aspects, but the question remains, how would a person be potentially affected psychologically to know he or she had three biological parents? Maybe he or she wouldn't be; after all, families come in all shapes and sizes, and love is the most important part. But if you ask me, it's worth considering every angle before we forge ahead into this brave new world.

What's your take?

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