Three-Parent Babies Now Only Two Years Away

Let’s start with the money quote, and then get down to the details:

“Are these techniques safe in humans? We won’t know that until it’s actually done in humans. Until a healthy baby is born we cannot say 100% that these techniques are safe, if you think back to when IVF was a new technology all of these questions were asked before IVF.” Andy Greenfield, chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA)

It takes the breath away, doesn’t it? They are playing with the most powerful force in the universe–the creation of new life–as if they’re diddling around with tinker-toys, fully aware they have no clue what this could do to the human person.

The procedure in question, which combines elements of two embryos, is being pursued for a noble goal: the elimination of mitochondrial disease. The disease causes “muscle weakness, blindness, heart failure and even death,” and is passed along by the mother.

The new technique removes and destroys the nucleus from a donor embryo and transplants the nucleus from the mother’s embryo into the donor embryo.

Of course, this means one embryo is destroyed in the process and something new is created: a human being with the genetic material of three parents.

Setting aside the horror of embryo destruction and bioethical nightmare of a three-parent child, what will introducing multi-DNA people into the human family do to both the people in question and humanity?

They haven’t got a clue. Not one single solitary clue. But they’re doing it anyway, and giving themselves a whole two years of testing (no doubt destroying many embryos in the process) to figure out how to do it.

Right now, they’re working with a procedure that many would see as a potential good: eliminating a terrible disease. That was always going to be the first step. The final, inevitable step should this go forward is designer babies and eugenics.

It’s almost inevitable now. A dark future of DNA tinkering and hybrid humans is a matter of when not if. Humanity had a good run, but we’re impatient with suffering. That was, of course, the lesson of the cross: a lesson too many in the world seem to have forgotten.

It’s not the we should go on blithely accepting suffering and death without applying human genius and imagination to making life better. It’s that there is a bright line separating what can be done from what should be done. We go so far, and no further. And messing about with the very source of human life is on the wrong side of that bright line.

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About Thomas L. McDonald

Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.